A record 1.6 million tourists visited Scotland's whisky distilleries in 2015, spending a total of £50 million.

Research by the Scotch Whisky Association found distillery visits increased by seven per cent between 2014 and 2015.

Visitor numbers to whisky manufacturers have jumped by 20 per cent since 2010 and collectively attract a similar number of visits annually to major tourist attractions such as Edinburgh Castle and London's St Paul's Cathedral.

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Around half of Scotland's 118 whisky distilleries are open to the public and the SWA's survey found tourists spend an average £25 per head per visit. Total spend at distillery visitor centres in 2015 was £50 million, up from £27 million in 2010.

Distilleries reported that the largest proportion of visitors came from Scotland and other parts of the UK, Germany, the US and France - reflecting some of the largest markets for Scotch around the world.

Scotch Whisky Association deputy chief executive Julie Hesketh-Laird said: "Scotch Whisky distilleries offer high-quality and unique opportunities to visit the homes of some of Scotland's most famous brands. It is testament to Scotch whisky companies that visits have increased at a time when overall Scottish visitor numbers fell.

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"This brings important benefits to the wider rural economy, as distillery visitors will also then be staying at the local B&B, visiting a local pub or cafe, or buying souvenirs of their stay in Scotland."