Scotch whisky exports grew by over a fifth in the first six months of the year, new figures have shown.
Statistics released by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) show global shipments reached £1.8bn between January and June this year, up from £1.47bn in the same period of 2010. The USA remains the top export market by value, with shipments hitting £268m, up from £233.7m - an increase of around 14%.
France, the second most valuable market, rose by 13% to £219.5m. Emerging markets in Asia and South America also grew, with rises of 33% and 49% respectively. The statistics show Taiwan has now become a top-five market destination, with shipments growing to £70m from £48m. Shipments to Brazil rose by 56% to £44.8m.
SWA chief executive Gavin Hewitt said: "Scotch whisky producers can be proud of their continuing success. Scotch whisky is a main driver for the UK and Scottish economies in building export markets.
"Recent breakthroughs in trade relations will help further. A free trade agreement with South Korea and better legal protection for Scotch whisky in India and Turkey give optimism for further growth. India and Turkey are now among the countries which recognise Scotch as a product that can only be made in Scotland."
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "The food and drink industry is at the heart of Scotland's global reputation. It is good to see that while the USA remains the top market, the emerging markets are booming too.
"We have great ambition for exports from Scotland. Other industries should be learning from the long-term strategy and continuing investment of the Scotch whisky industry.
"The Scottish Government does not take this investment for granted. We fundamentally recognise the contribution that Scotch whisky makes to Scotland - in jobs, tourism and culture."
Scottish Secretary Michael Moore added: "The continued growth of Scotch whisky into emerging and established world markets is welcome news for Scotland.
"A rise in the value of whisky shipped abroad by almost a fifth in the first half of the year is a very strong economic performance. It secures jobs in the sector and puts the industry in an excellent position for growth in the rest of 2011.
"The UK Government has been working closely with the industry to secure geographical indication protection for whisky in countries around the world, including India and Turkey, which has helped the sector's performance. Through our embassies around the world, we have used our global influence to remove trade barriers.
"Growth of UK exports are critical to the country's economic recovery and I am proud that Scotland's iconic product continues to perform so strongly worldwide."