Tax cut boosts UK Scotch sales

Tax cut boosts UK Scotch sales

A tax cut on Scotch whisky has boosted sales in the UK following years of decline, according to new research.

Figures from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) show a 2% rise in the number of 70cl bottles of the spirit released for sale last year - up to 84.9 million from 83.3 million in 2014.

The modest recovery follows the number of bottles released for sale in the UK falling by around a quarter in the past decade.

In 2005 more than 107 million bottles were sold, but volumes have not broken 100 million a year since 2008.

Last year, chancellor George Osborne announced a 2% cut, a year after a spirits duty freeze and scrapping of the alcohol escalator in 2014, which the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said has given a "confidence boost" to the industry.

The association is calling for a further 2% tax cut to help boost recovery, arguing that the current 76% tax on an average bottle of Scotch whisky is still too high.

SWA chief executive David Frost said: "A strong UK market is vital, particularly for new entrants to the industry.

“In the last two years, nine new distilleries have started production in Scotland and they need a strong domestic base to grow from.

"The UK is still the third biggest market for Scotch in the world, but it is fragile and competitive.

“That's why we want Osborne to support an important domestic industry by cutting duty by a further 2% next month."