Whisky industry toasts exports high
The value of Scotch whisky exports reached almost £3 billion in the first nine months of this year, an increase of 23% on the same period in 2010.
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said exports have hit a record high this year, with the industry pulling in £125 every second for the UK balance of payments.
The whisky industry in Scotland, which employs more than 10,000 people, has now achieved legal protection as a "geographical indication" in a number of markets, including India and China, according to the SWA.
It means Scotch whisky is recognised as a product that can only be made in Scotland.
Ian Curle, chief executive of The Edrington Group, has just been unveiled as the association's new chairman.
He said a priority now will be to complete negotiations between the European Union and India on a free trade agreement that would reduce the "onerous" import tariff.
Mr Curle said a change in the current duty regime that sees Scotch whisky taxed more heavily than other drinks is "long overdue".
He added: "I am delighted to be taking over as chairman of the SWA at a time when the Scotch whisky industry is in confident mood. Scotch whisky is an iconic product and it will continue to be a prime asset and export for Scotland and the UK. I'll work to protect the integrity of Scotch whisky across the globe and to advance its export success.
"With the support of governments at home and abroad to achieve fairer taxation and reduction of trade barriers, the industry can reach even higher levels. The European Union is vital to this work."
Outgoing SWA chairman Paul Walsh, chief executive of Diageo, said: "It has been a great pleasure and a privilege to chair the SWA over the past four years. As the latest export figures show, the industry is enjoying a tremendous period of growth around the world, making it one of the most important manufactured exports the UK produces. That growth is also helping drive investment by the industry in Scotland and so benefiting both the UK and Scottish economies."