SCOTCH whisky exports hit an all-time high last year, rising by nearly 8% to £4.7 billion, the latest figures show.

The US became the first export market to be worth £1 billion in annual sales to the Scotch industry.

In volume, as opposed to value, terms, Scotch whisky exports rose by 3.6% last year to the equivalent of 1.28 billion, 70-centilitre bottles, according to analysis of HM Revenue & Customs figures by the Scotch Whisky Association.

SWA chief executive Karen Betts said: “2018 was another year of strong export growth for Scotch Whisky, attesting to its enduring popularity in different countries and among cultures right across the world.”