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Whisky drives double digit growth in Scottish heartland

Burns Night will have given whisky sales a welcome boost, and celebrations can provide a springboard into a strong year for the category.

Here are five insights from CGA by NIQ’s suite of research sources to help suppliers and operators plan successful strategies for the category.  


1 Strong growth in Scotland 

CGA’s market measurement service shows Britain’s total On Premise whisky sales totalled £959m in 2023—a 2.0% drop year-on-year. However, there was significant growth of 18.2% in Scotland. Consequently, Scotland now accounts for 15.4% of all whisky sales by value.  


2 Malts up, blends down  

Sales growth has been powered by malt whisky, where the value rate of sale increased by 35.9% year on year in Scotland in 2023. Malts now have a 31.8% share of all whisky sales—marking an increase of 3.3 percentage points. This has come at the expense of blended and American whiskey, which lost 2.7 and 1.0 percentage points of share respectively. 


3 Strong demand for neat malts… 

CGA’s BrandTrack service reveals 17% of blended whisky consumers prefer to drink it neat. However, the number among malt drinkers is more than twice as high at 42%. This gap highlights the importance of getting serve strategies right in different segments of the whisky category. 


4 … And opportunities in mixed drinks too 

Category sales have been bolstered in recent years by the popularity of whisky-based cocktails. CGA’s latest Mixed Drinks Report shows 7% of consumers now typically drink Old Fashioneds and Whiskey Sours in pubs, bars and restaurants, while 5% will order a Manhattan. 


5 A valuable demographic 

Whisky drinkers tend to be more affluent and engaged with pubs and bars than other consumers. They spend £126per month on eating and drinking out—£27 more than Britain’s average consumer.  

Matt Meek, CGA by NIQ’s senior client manager, said: “While it has been a challenging couple of years in the spirits market, whisky—and malts in particular—have often provided solid growth. Burns Night is a great way to cement its appeal and attract new drinkers who will return to it on future occasions. But whisky is a complex and evolving category where a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. Deep market knowledge is needed to craft the differentiated strategies that are needed to gain sales and share.”


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