Scotch whisky exports hit a record value of nearly 2.5 billion pounds last year as shipments of both malt and blended whisky increased worldwide, according to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).
Exports to India, however, were down 6 per cent to 24 million pounds. The SWA attributed this to India's allegedly discriminatory tariff and tax system that is seen to have restricted fair market access.
The SWA, however, said future prospects in India were encouraging, with the issue now referred by the European Union to a World Trade Organisation dispute settlement panel for an early ruling.
Total exports reached 2.47 billion pounds, 4 per cent higher than 2005, and beating a previous high of 2.4 billion pounds in 1997.
Export volume was also at a new record high with shipments hitting 1.05 billion bottles, up 6 per cent higher than 2005 and topping the previous record of 1.10 billion bottles in 2001.
SWA chairperson Richard Burrows said: "Building on a record year in 2006, the prospects for Scotch whisky are brighter than they have been for many years. I' am greatly encouraged that distillers, large and small, are investing in facilities in Scotland and taking advantage of opportunities worldwide, with markets in Asia, North and South America offering strong potential for growth.
"To support the industry's international competitiveness, SWA is continuing to press the case for new legislation that will improve both the legal protection of Scotch whisky from unfair competition and help to promote the positive reputation of Scotch to consumers around the world."
The US was once again the top export market by value last year, with the 400 million pounds total up by 7 percent on 2005. France came second with 274.9 million pounds, ahead by 7 per cent. Spain in third place was down 19 per cent on the previous year at 195.1 million pounds.
The biggest percentage rise in the top 10 was recorded by Venezuela (up 45 per cent to 106.7 million pounds), closely followed by Singapore (+33 per cent to 85.8 million pounds), South Africa (+31 percent to 83.5 million pounds) and China (+27 per cent to 58.2 million pounds).
The SWA said the South Korean market remained robust despite a decrease in shipments (-12 per cent to 136 million pounds). This followed an increase in exports in late 2005 ahead of an anticipated excise tax rise.