The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has opened a five-strong office in Westminster, London.

The office is the largest permanent presence the organisation has ever had outside Edinburgh.

It is being established to enable the SWA to build stronger relationships in both Whitehall and Westminster, as well as to develop its overseas connections.

The London operation will be headed by Sarah Dickson, the SWA’s director of global affairs, who is responsible for the SWA’s international and European Union business.

Dickson joined the SWA in June, having previously been the UK ambassador to Guatemala and Honduras.

The SWA also recently appointed Graeme Littlejohn as head of external affairs in London.

Littlejohn was previously head of office for Danny Alexander, former chief secretary to the Treasury and MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey.

Speaking at the official opening this morning, Elizabeth Truss, secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs, said: “Whisky is at the forefront of Britain’s food and drink revolution, helping to drive the UK’s global reputation for world-beating quality and authenticity.

“It is the powerhouse behind our £100 billion food and drink industry and is a global export success, with 38 bottles leaving our shores every second. 

“Over the next five years, we want to unleash the potential of Britain’s finest food and drink producers by boosting exports, securing investment and flying the flag for British produce both at home and abroad.

“We will continue to work closely with the SWA and industry to ensure they have the support, skills and opportunities to take risks and gain access to emerging markets.

“It is yet more proof of how we are stronger together in the United Kingdom,” she added.

Whisky exports generate close to £4 billion in sales in some 200 markets worldwide. The industry contributes around £1 billion in taxes and duties to the Exchequer each year.

The industry supports more than 10,000 job directly in Scotland, and a further 40,000 indirectly across the UK.
David Frost, chief executive of the SWA, said: “We believe other industries can learn from the success of Scotch whisky.

“We are keen to work in collaboration with the government to help grow exports and the wider UK economy.

“The scotch whisky industry is going through a time of expansion. There are now 117 distilleries in
 Scotland, with seven opening in the last year or so.

“About 40 new distilleries are currently being planned or built to meet demand for the quality product.”