What does Scotland actually make out of whisky? It can be divided into three sectors: employment, tax, and indirect benefits.
According to the Department of the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) 7,000 people are directly employed in the whisky industry.
53 distilleries have closed in the last 28 years, but 23 have reopened and 6 have been built from scratch (including two farm-sized distilleries) making a total of 92 single malt distilleries and 7 grain distilleries today. Assuming a generous average of 15 people per distillery that makes 1380 people directly employed by Scotland's distilleries.
Scotland's population is 5,062, 011, the working population being 2,603,000. So 0.05% of the Scottish population actually works at a distillery. There is of course central warehousing, central bottling halls, and company HQs
Whisky companies sell £2.8 billion of Scotch Whisky. But how much of that actually goes to Scotland as opposed to the UK economy? Whisky only accounts for 7.1% of alcoholic drinks revenue to the UK Exchequer - £700m in 2006 (£190m of that is VAT) according to Alan Gray's Scotch Whisky Industry Review.
£77m of it comes from single malt whisky consumed in the UK. Interestingly, about 100,000 cases of Islay single malt are consumed in the UK earning £8.4m in Excise revenue, plus £1.4m in Vat, making a total of £9.8m - say £10 million.
Then there is corporation tax. But that depends where the company earnings are declared, and that can be easily influenced with an a little accounting giggery-pokery: for example, when one compares the quoted sales of one famous single malt brand with the annual turnover in the filed accounts, one can deduce that the whisky is sold for a mere £2 a bottle. With such low turnover figure but high cost of sales, the humble profit for the huge size of the brand means that only a token UK corporation tax is paid. The profit, of course, by way of paper transaction, is really being made elsewhere. All perfectly legal, but where is the benefit for Scotland or the UK?
So the UK is not getting as much out of whisky, in particular single malt, as the SWA keep wanting you to think. Scotland is being used as a production facility. Profits and taxes are, like the whisky, going overseas.