Scotch whisky exports for the first half of 2023 have shown a small dip in value and a steeper volumes decline, as the industry’s trade organisation points to premiumisation within the category.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said today that H1 2023 export values fell 3.6% on the same period in 2022, to £2.57bn. Meanwhile, volumes were down 20% – or 630 million 70cl bottles.

“This continues the global trend of consumers premiumising in the spirits category, trading up within the Scotch whisky industry to premium blended Scotch whisky, single malt and, increasingly, blended malt Scotch whisky,” the SWA said.

The US remains Scotch whisky’s biggest export market by value, while France reclaimed its position as the largest export destination by volume.

The SWA used the announcement to call on the UK government not to take the success of the Scotch whisky industry for granted following the recent 10.1% increase to excise duty and widening of the tax gap between spirits with beer and cider.

SWA chief executive Mark Kent said: “2022 was an exceptional year for Scotch whisky exports, breaking records in both value and volume. So, at the half-way point of 2023, it is encouraging that the industry is keeping pace with export value, continuing to deliver significant economic growth through production and investment in Scotland and across the UK.

“The recent double-digit tax hike on Scotch whisky in the UK, the largest in 40 years, and the deepening of the competitive disadvantage faced by distillers versus other alcohol categories was a blow to the industry,” he added. “The future potential growth of the industry, in terms of exports, job creation and investment across Scotland and our UK supply chain, is dependent on working in partnership with government. Growth at home and abroad, coupled with a supportive domestic regulatory environment, is also key to driving forward our sustainability strategy and achieving net zero.”