Sales of Scotch whisky in the United Kingdom have declined after Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond hiked taxes on spirits, according to official figures that provoked calls to reverse the measure in next month's budget.
According to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) figures, 36.7m bottles of Scotch were released for sale in the United Kingdom in the first six months of 2017, compared to 37.7m bottles in the same period of 2016.
The 2.6% fall, which followed the 3.9% spirits duty increase announced in the spring Budget, has led the SWA to launch its Drop The Dram Duty campaign.
Industry figures show that an average bottle sold at £12.77 will generate more than £10 for the Treasury, meaning that tax makes up around 80% of the retail price of a bottle of whisky.
Charandeep Singh, spokesman for the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: "The Scotch Whisky Association is right to highlight the damaging effect that the hike in spirits duty has had on Scotch sales within the UK".
"Philip Hammond's damaging 3.9% spirits duty hike has hit United Kingdom demand for Scotch and seen less money going to the Treasury", Karen Betts, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said in an emailed statement.
Now the industry is urging the Chancellor to cut excise duty on spirits to "protect the UK's leading food and drink export" which supports 40,000 jobs.
Spirits revenue was down more than seven per cent in the first financial quarter of 2017/18 to £697 million from £751m in the same period from April to the end of June the previous year.
"The Chancellor should use his November Budget to Drop The Dram Duty and boost a great British success story".
HMRC figures also showed that the tax take from spirits had fallen since the duty was increased.
She said the whisky industry supported 40,000 jobs and played a key role in Scotland's economy, accounting for more than £4bn in exports.
A Treasury spokeswoman said: "We recognise the importance of the Scotch Whisky industry".