Exports of Scotch whisky reached record levels in 1996, boosted by the American and Far Eastern markets.
Figures just released show the total value of exported Scotch in 1996 was £2,278 million, up by £1 million.
The biggest growing market was South Korea, which imported £128.9 million worth of Scotch, up 44 per cent, and overtook Japan (£128.8 million) as the fourth-largest export market in the world.
The USA remained the largest market, up six per cent to £273 million.
But exports to most EU countries, including Italy, Sweden and Portugal, suffered because of higher taxes.
Spain (£183 million) dropped by eight per cent following a 26 per cent tax hike.
John McGrath, chairman of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), said: "Despite difficult trading conditions, the industry has demonstrated its resilience by nudging the value of exports higher."
McGrath contrasted the fall in UK duty with the "folly" of tax rises in the EU which he said has resulted in lost sales and lost taxes.
The SWA is lobbying political parties in the run-up to the election to commit themselves to a strong defence of the industry abroad.