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Australia becomes Top 10 Scotch whisky market

Australia has entered the top 10 markets for Scotch Whisky for the first time. According to the Scotch Whisky Association, exports to Australia totalled £113million in 2020. While this was down 3.17% on 2019’s total, exports to Mexico and India fell further, which led them to drop out of the top 10.

It’s predicted that the UK’s negotiations for a free trade deal with Australia will push the numbers Down Under even higher.

COVID-19 has also proven to be a boon for Australia’s off-premise, with most major drinks companies reporting double-digit sales surges. In late January, for example, Diageo announced its Scotch sales were up 17% in Australia, driven by Johnnie Walker.

Meanwhile, interest in collecting whisky is growing. Last year, a “whisky enthusiast” has snapped up a $150,000 bottle of The Macallan 72 Years Old in Lalique whisky from Dan Murphy’s in Double Bay – the most expensive single bottle of spirits sold in the company’s history.

The US remains the biggest market for Scotch by value, despite exports being down almost 32% as a result of COVID-19 and the 25% tariff imposed upon numerous UK and EU imports into the US in October 2019.

Total Scotch Whisky exports fell by more than £1.1billion (23%) to £3.8billion during 2020, while volumes decreased by 13% to 1.14billion.

SWA chief executive Karen Betts said: “These figures are a grim reminder of the challenges faced by distillers over the past year, as exports stalled in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and US tariffs.

“In effect, the industry lost 10 years of growth in 2020 and it’s going to take some time to build back to a position of strength.”

Signs of recovery for Scotch Whisky

Pernod Ricard’s whisky business, Chivas Brothers, recently reported “a measured return” to its “pre-pandemic momentum” in the half-year to December.

Chivas Brothers – which includes Chivas Regal, Ballantine’s, Royal Salute and The Glenlivet brands – said that although total sales were down by 10% compared with the same period in 2019, they were 17 percentage points up on the previous six months when COVID restrictions first hit.

It reported 2% growth in worldwide domestic business sales, despite continued on-trade restrictions.

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