Scotch whisky has seen a stark rise in global popularity in recent years, with a reported 53 bottles being exported every second last year. The well-loved liquid gold has been a mainstay in the drinks cabinets of many for generations. Recent figures around the sales and consumption of whisky around the world continue to impress, boasting yet more growth in 2022 and a top ten list of whisky consuming countries that’s changed once again.
In this article we explore the most recent SWA (Scotch Whisky Association) export figures for 2022, sharing the top ten countries for whisky exports by volume (70cl bottles).
10. SOUTH AFRICA
Starting with number 10 on our list, South Africa breaks into the list for the first time since 2019. It’s by far the largest market for whisky in Africa, with the volume of bottles exported to the country reaching 39m compared to 34m in 2021 - a jump of 15%. With a steady rise of exports of single malt Scotch whiskies to South Africa in the last few years, they now account for 4% of all Scotch leaving Scotland.
Popular South African (Scotch style) whisky brands: Bain’s, Three Ships, Copper Republic
Mexico recorded just a 2% rise in Scotch whisky exports, meaning that by volume it hit roughly the same figure as 2021 of 48m bottles. It’s interesting that 2021’s figure indicated a 13% increase on 2020 figures, however this was still 7% lower than the number of exports in 2019, illustrating that the country hasn’t quite hit the height of whisky export numbers it did before the pandemic - leaving room for further growth as we move into 2023 and beyond.
The purchase and consumption of whisky in Mexico in the last 20 years has seen a marked rise. Various reports had the country at number 24 on the list of biggest consuming countries of Scotch whisky by volume in 2006, yet today, the SWA’s most recent figures place it in the top 10 markets for whisky exports.
Popular Mexican (Scotch style) whisky brands: Abasalo
Comparing SWA’s figures over the past few years highlights Poland as a growing market for Scotch whisky exports, with a 9% rise from 45m bottles in 2021 to 49m bottles in 2022, moving it up to 8th on the list. While it’s not the most stark increase, Poland’s growth has been a steady one, demonstrating a consistent rise from the 33m and 37m bottles exported in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
Popular Polish (Scotch style) whisky brands: The Langlander, Jack Strong, Wild Fields
Spain boasts one of the largest rises in exports on this list compared to its 2021 figures, 67m bottles in 2022 compared to 48m the previous year. That’s an increase of 39%. When considering the fact that the country’s 2021 figures were up 32% on 2020, it highlights yet another market that’s showing not just consistent, but impressive growth in the Scotch whisky export space.
For a country renowned for its beer-drinking culture, interestingly, Germany recorded the second-highest percentage growth in Scotch whisky exports on this list. With the same figure of exported bottles as Spain - 67m bottles - Germany continues to grow in status as a whisky-consuming nation.
An impressive 48% rise on 2021’s 46m bottles becomes yet more impressive when you consider that between 2020 and 2021, German Scotch whisky exports only rose 7%. Germany’s love for Scotch is growing, and growing quickly.
Perhaps one of the less surprising entries on this list, Japan has a rich and storied history with whisky, and is one of the top Asian whisky-consuming countries. A growing presence in the whisky market, Japanese-crafted whisky exports leaving the country continue to increase year on year, rising 21% to 56 billion yen (around £327m) in 2022.
Despite a focus on producing their own whisky, Japan is still an avid consumer of Scotch whisky, with exports to the country surpassing 75m bottles last year, up 33% on the 56m bottles exported in 2021. With a deep-rooted passion for both whisky production and consumption, it’s likely we will see Japan go from strength to strength in this market.
Brazil retains 4th spot on the list, perhaps no surprise from a country renowned for its love of Scotch whisky. In 2022 the South American country imported 93m bottles of the liquid gold, with a preference for blends as opposed to single malts. This figure is up 14% on 2021 when they imported 82m bottles, and represents another year of growth for Brazil in terms of whisky imports, highlighting yet another nation with a growing love for Scotch.
Popular Brazilian (Scotch style) whisky brands: Old Eight, Wall Street, Cockland
3. UNITED STATES
While comfortably topping the list for whisky imports in terms of value, when looking at volume (the number of bottles) the US sits in third place, importing 137m bottles of Scotch in 2022, up 9% on 2021’s 126m bottles. Interestingly, according to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), 2022 was the first year since the 25% tariff on single malt Scotch was suspended in 2019 that the US broke $1 billion in Scotch whisky sales.
Knocked off the top spot in 2022, the renowned whisky-loving nation finds itself in second place in the list of top ten whisky export destinations. The 205m bottles that France imported is still an impressive 17% rise on the 176m bottles imported in 2021, and presents the first notable rise in volume since 2019. With a growing appetite for Scotch whisky, we can expect to see France on this list for many years to come.
Taking top spot for the first time since the SWA began sharing these figures, India is quickly becoming the front-of-mind destination when considering Scotch whisky consumption. A spirit that was once almost exclusively consumed by the senior uniformed officers stationed in India, the correlation between whisky and status or wealth has a rich history in the country, and almost certainly plays a part in its popularity today.
Despite a huge tariff of 150% on imported bottles of Scotch still posing a hurdle for many whisky drinkers in India, the purchase and consumption among the middle classes of India is rising, and rising quickly. India saw a meteoric rise in the number of imported bottles of Scotch in 2022, surpassing 219m bottles, a 60% rise on the 136m bottles of 2021.
With current talks around a UK-India trade deal ongoing (one that would see the tariff substantially reduced), and knowing that Scotch whisky currently only makes up 2% of the entire Indian whisky market, the potential for growth in India over the next few years is huge.
As this article illustrates, whisky is a growing global market, and an asset that continues to offer excellent investment potential for anyone looking to diversify their portfolio. If it’s piqued your interest in whisky investment, just fill out the form below to get in touch with one of our Luxury Asset Managers!