Scotch whisky contributes £99 to the UK trade balance every second, and saw a 3% hike by value in 2009 boosting its overall worth to £3.13bn, according to recently released figures from the Scotch Whisky Association.

Despite the downturn, whisky is bucking the trend abroad in particular, with exports to France and the US up 13% in value apiece and the emerging markets of Brazil up 44% and South Africa 7%.

Much of this growth is down to innovation, believe producers. A good example is Benromach, owned by Gordon & MacPhail. The Speyside distillery launched the world's first single malt organic whisky to be certified by the Soil Association in 2006 and followed this up with an Organic Special Edition, which was unveiled last September with an rsp of £30.99.

Gordon & MacPhail joint managing director David Urquhart says trading in the 2009/10 financial year has been buoyant, with UK sales increasing 30%. But innovation is not limited to brand variants.

Leading independent wine merchant Inverarity Vaults employed Scottish artist Alasdair Gray to create the label artwork for a new limited-edition blended whisky, which was launched in September.

Meanwhile, in April, Teacher's created a podcast to inform retailers about the quality of blended Scottish whisky. It builds on the previous School of Whisky campaign, "informing consumers about the craftsmanship that goes into creating blended Scotch whisky and dispelling the myth that blends are inferior to malts", explains Janette Peat, Maxxium UK brand manager for Teacher's.

Focus On Scotland