Whisky Exports: Opportunities for Scotch Whisky Investment Overseas

by Aaron Damiano Sparkes
Founder and CEO of Whisky 1901

The world of whisky

The international whisky market is booming. As whisky consumption becomes more popular across the globe, more opportunities exist for Scotch whisky exports and whisky investment.

With the likes of India, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and parts of Asia experiencing high growth in whisky sales over the past few years, we look at the overseas market potential.


Overseas appeal

India, the UAE and Asia are experiencing a boom in whisky sales. In 2023, Asia-Pacific continued to be the largest export market by value, supported by record value exports to China. According to the Scotch Whisky Association, exports to China were up 165% on 2019 figures. The popularity of single malt Scotch was a main contributing factor.

Despite a fall in sales in India in 2023, it remains the second largest export market by volume. The hotly anticipated free trade agreement developing between the UK and India, is also expected to lead to £1 billion in extra whisky exports to the region over a five year period, if it goes ahead.

We take a deep dive into some of the key markets for whisky exports over the next few years and how the Scotch whisky scene can cement and capitalise on the opportunities.

India: market overview and opportunities

India is one of the largest whisky markets in the world, both in terms of volume and value. Currently, Scotch whisky accounts for 2% of market share – with room to grow. The market has been growing steadily in recent years due to increasing disposable income, urbanisation, and a growing middle class. Figures from the Scotch Whisky Association indicate that premiumisation has led to good market traction as consumer preferences shift towards higher quality and established brands.

Whisky is the preferred alcoholic beverage in India. It has a strong cultural affinity and is often associated with celebrations, rituals and gatherings. There is also growing interest in Scotch whisky, especially among younger, affluent consumers who view it as a status symbol.

The Indian market offers significant potential for Scotch whisky, particularly in the premium and luxury segments. There is a huge opportunity for brands to build loyalty there and educate consumers on the market as they look to immerse themselves in the sector.

UAE: market overview and opportunities

The UAE has a robust market for alcoholic beverages, with whisky being a popular choice among expatriates and tourists. The market is supported by a high disposable income population and a thriving hospitality and tourism sector.

Scotch whisky is highly regarded and enjoys a strong presence in the UAE, especially in duty-free shops and high-end retail outlets. Whisky tasting events and high-profile launches by brands including Glenfiddich, have also contributed to its popularity.

The region offers huge potential for premium and ultra-premium Scotch whisky, given the affluent customer base.

Asia: market overview and opportunities

The whisky market in Asia is diverse, with significant growth in countries like China, Japan, South Korea, and Southeast Asian nations. Economic growth and rising middle-class populations are key drivers of increased whisky consumption.

Whisky is gaining popularity across Asia, with a strong interest in premium and imported whiskies, including Scotch. Countries like Japan and South Korea have well-established whisky cultures, while others like China are rapidly developing a taste for it as export figures over the past few years show. Indeed, Scotch whisky exports to China have increased by 165% in value over the last five years.

There are vast opportunities for Scotch whisky in both established and emerging markets within Asia. The key to continued growth in popularity will be to appeal to local tastes and preferences and ensuring cultural relevance and resonance.

Enhancing exports and investment

By understanding the reasons behind whisky’s popularity in international markets and making it easy to consume and invest in, brands can capitalise on demand and cement Scotch whisky’s place and reputation outside of Scotland.

To find out more about whisky cask investment and the market opportunities in the UK and overseas, get in touch with our experts.


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