By Daniel Hunter

Scotch whisky contributes almost £5bn a year to the UK economy, according to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

Direct economic impact has grown 21% since 2008 to £3.3bn, the SWA said. The study by the industry body also found that Scotch whisky accounts for more than a quarter of all UK exports.

Research by the industry body found that in addition to the financial contribution, Scotch whisky supports more than 40,000 jobs, 11,000 of which are direct.

The drink also brings more direct benefit to the UK economy than shipbuilding, iron and steel, textiles or computing, the SWA said.

Estimates showed that for every one job in the Scotch industry, another 2.7 jobs were supported in the UK. And for every £1m of value added, a further £520,000 was generated in the supply chain.

SWA chief executive David Frost said: "This new report shows just how significant the Scotch whisky industry is to the wider UK economy, adding £5bn of value, supporting over 40,000 jobs, and contributing £4bn to Britain's trade performance.

"Scotch whisky must be recognised as a cultural asset that boosts growth and jobs, supports communities and combines the best of the traditional and the modern.

"Given the scale and impact of the Scotch whisky industry, we believe the government should show its support.

"One way of doing so, in the short term, would be for the chancellor to cut excise duty by 2% in the March Budget."

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