By Daniel Hunter

Exports of Scotch whisky fell 7% in 2014, marking the end of a decade of strong growth.

HMRC figures show that exports fell 7% to £3.95bn last year, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said.

A sharp drop in sales to the US, Scotch whisky's biggest market, was to blame for the overall fall. Sales were down 9% to £748m during 2014.

There were also mixed results in some of its other big markets. Sales in its second biggest market France were up 2% to £445m. The third largest, Singapore, saw sales plummet 39%. But there was a 36% rise in Taiwan and Spain and Germany fell by 8% and 18% respectively.

SWA chief executive David Frost said: "Economic and political factors in some important markets held back Scotch whisky exports in 2014 after a decade of strong growth.

"It shows that the industry's success cannot be taken for granted and that we must continue to argue for more open markets and ambitious trade deals that tackle barriers to market access.

"The long-term fundamentals remain strong, with consumers in emerging markets wanting to buy Scotch whisky as a high-quality and authentic product with a strong reputation and clear provenance.

"This drives the strong investment in Scotch whisky production in Scotland and the significant interest in entering the sector."