THE value of Scotch whisky exports grew for the first time since 2012 last year, as the post-Brexit collapse in sterling gave a boost to sales in overseas markets.

Official figures from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs show that the value of Scotch exports increased by 3.3 per cent to £3.98 billion in 2016, while the volume of exports increased by 4.1 per cent to 337.3 million litres of pure alcohol (mLPA).

The figures, disclosed by WhiskyInvestDirect, emerged as it was announced that Scottish food and drink export levels to Japan touched nearly £100m.

The latest HMRC figures signal a rise in the value of Scotch whisky exports after three years of consecutive growth.

According to WhiskyInvestDirect, exports soared by the eight per cent in the last quarter of 2016, underlining the boost to UK exports brought by the plunge in the value of the pound since the EU referendum last June.

Prior to the Brexit vote, the value of sterling had fallen by one per cent in the first six months of 2016 compared with the same period in 2015. That was despite a 3.2 per cent rise in the amount of Scotch whisky dispatched in the first half of 2016.

WhiskyInvestDirect, an online market for buying and selling Scotch, noted that HMRC figures show that export values grew by 6.8 per cent in the second half of last year, with volumes rising by 4.8 per cent.

And it said that 2016 was the first year in which export growth by value has occurred in every quarter in the current decade.

Meanwhile, the latest available export figures show the overall value of food and drink sales to Japan reached £98.7m in 2015, up nine per cent from the £90.3m in 2014. Whisky exports accounted for 77 per cent of the total while seafood, underpinned by salmon bound for the sushi market, makes up 16 per cent.

External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop highlighted the figures on a visit to the first-ever Scottish food and drink fair at the Isetan Shinjuku department store in Tokyo, promoting Scottish seafood.

Ms Hyslop said: “Scotland has a fantastic larder of some of the world’s best natural produce, a flair for innovation and a long-standing reputation for producing top-quality food and drink – so it is no surprise our food and drink industry is enjoying significant success in the Japanese market.

“A growing appetite in Japan for our whisky has supported a strong surge in the value of food and drinks exports to almost £100m – the highest on record.

“We are committed to building on this success and strengthening relationships with major food distributors and retailers across Japan.”