OVERSEAS sales of single malt whisky rose in 2015, although the total value of Scotch exports dropped for a third consecutive year, the latest industry analysis shows.

The fall in overall exports of Scotch whisky in recent years has coincided with heavy investment by distillers in increased capacity.

However, Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) chief executive David Frost said: “Scotch whisky exports continue to deliver, and the fundamentals for future growth are strong. Whilst the last couple of years have been more difficult, the longer-term picture has been one of increased demand, new investment, and premiumisation.”

Publishing its latest figures, the SWA emphasised the decline in overall Scotch whisky exports last year was less steep than in 2014.

The SWA said the value of Scotch whisky exports totalled £3.86 billion in 2015, down by 2.4 per cent on the preceding year.

However, it noted that Scotch exports had fallen by seven per cent to £3.95bn in 2014.

The SWA added that the value of Scotch whisky exports last year was up by 56 per cent on a decade ago.

In 2013, the value of Scotch whisky exports edged down to £4.26bn from £4.27bn the previous year.

The SWA said the value of shipments of single malt Scotch whisky rose to £916.4 million last year, from £914m in 2014.

It noted that single malts accounted for nearly 25 per cent of the value Scotch whisky exports in 2015, up from 18 per cent five years ago.

In the context of the June 23 referendum on UK membership of the European Union, the SWA highlighted the fact that around 40 per cent of the volume of Scotch shipped globally was exported to the EU last year, “underlining the importance of the single market”.

The US was again by far the biggest market by value for Scotch. Exports to the US fell marginally from £750m to £749m.