Distillers' attempts to revitalise the UK Scotch whisky market by introducing more "accessible" brands are faltering badly, and some recent campaigns intended to attract a younger generation of drinkers have been axed.

Even though exports of Scotch whisky are growing at a healthy clip, the picture is far less promising at home. According to the latest figures from the Sutherlands Scotch Whisky Yearbook, the UK market for Scotch slumped by 6.2% from 30.1 million litres in 2005 to 28.2 million litres last year.

Recent launches that industry insiders had hoped would help reverse declining UK sales by rejuvenating the image of Scotch at home include JMR's Easy Drinking Whisky Company (majority-owned by The Famous Grouse parent Edrington Group), Diageo's J&B -6c and William Grant & Sons' Monkey Shoulder.

Diageo confirmed yesterday that it has ceased production of J&B -6c Scotch. This virtually-clear blended whisky was specifically intended to attract younger drinkers to Scotch. Chill-filtered down to minus six degrees celsius, the product was billed as a "classic for a new generation" and distributed to carefully selected style bars and nightclubs.

Diageo said: "We have ceased production of J&B -6c. The decision has been made on a global level and there are currently no future plans for the product."

"In Britain, despite gaining good distribution and building a reasonable consumer base, J&B -6c has not met the stringent performance criteria set by Diageo for ongoing production."

Meanwhile, JMR Easy Drinking Whisky Company, founded in 2003, has withdrawn its range of three blended malt whiskies - the Big Spicy One, The Smokey Peaty One and The Smooth Sweeter One - from the UK market after disappointing sales.

The company, backed by Edrington, had hoped to "demystify" the world of Scotch and make the sector more palatable to outsiders. Its three founders, brothers Jon and Mark Geary and master blender David "Robbo" Robertson, claimed they had "chucked out the Scotch whisky rule book" through their quirky and irreverent approach to marketing.

However, the company yesterday confirmed it has thrown in the towel in the UK market. Founder director Mark Geary said it will instead be focusing on the US market.

Geary, who also works as a head of planning and research at Edrington Group, said: "The UK is a tougher market in which to introduce new brands as a result of the low margins available. Because of its sheer size, there is a greater number of consumers open to this sort of thing in the US. It gives us a larger target to shoot at. The opportunity is huge over there."

Geary said JMR will focus on exporting to California, Colorado, Texas and Florida, where he said the company has had some success in persuading youngish Americans to acquire a taste for malt whisky.

The products were launched in the US in 2005 and Geary said sales rose to 4000 cases during 2006. He said JMR's products continue to be distributed by the French group Remy Cointreau in the US.

A spokesman for William Grant & Sons says it is committed to persevering with its own youth-oriented brand, Monkey Shoulder.

Launched in 2005, this is a blend of three Speyside malts. It is named after the sore shoulder that Scottish distillery workers got from turning the malted barley by hand.

The spokesman said: "We are gaining traction with retailers and the on-trade is becoming more interested. But there's no denying the UK is a tough market, and blended malts is a relatively new category."

Alan Gray, whisky analyst at brokers Sutherlands Edinburgh, said: "Just because these attempts at revitalising the UK Scotch whisky market seem to have failed does not mean the industry should give up trying. Eventually, someone's going to come up with a breakthrough product that revolutionises the domestic market."