Scotch whisky exports fell 23% to 3.8bn pounds in 2020, the lowest in 10 years, due to the coronavirus pandemic and US duties.
According to the Scotch Whisky Association, the value of exports to the US, the largest international market for the sector, fell 32% to 729m pounds at the end of last year. Washington imposed duties at 25% on imports of single malt Scotch whisky in October 2019.
"The US has remained our strongest and most valuable market for decades, but Scotch whisky is now significantly losing ground there", the association said in a statement.
Shipments to France, the second largest export market, fell 13% to 375m pounds. Meanwhile the damage in some European markets was more severe. Thus, exports to Germany fell by 25% to 139m pounds.
Chivas Brothers, part of the Pernod Ricard group (PA:PERP) and a whisky maker, reported an improvement in international sales in the second half of 2020. Global sales were down 10% year-on-year over the period, compared with a 27% drop in the first half of the year.
Chivas chairman and CEO Jean-Christophe Coutures said: "Results like this reinforce our confidence in the sustainability of Scotch whisky".
The coronavirus pandemic has also hit other premium Scottish exports. For example, international sales of farm fresh salmon fell 27% to 451m pounds in 2020, according to the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation.