Scotch whisky contributes almost £5bn to the UK economy and supports more than 40,000 jobs, according to research commissioned by the industry.
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said the sector now accounted for 25% of total UK food and drink exports.
Its report also suggested that the industry's direct economic impact had grown by 21% since 2008, to £3.3bn.
It found it added more value to the economy than shipbuilding, iron and steel, textiles or computing.
The report also concluded that Scotch whisky supported almost 11,000 jobs directly.
It estimated that every job in the industry supported a further 2.7 British posts - adding that for every £1m of value added, the industry generated another £520,000 across the UK, through haulage, packaging and other aspects of the supply chain.
According to the report, capital expenditure makes up £140m of total industry spend - some 70% of that in other parts of the UK and overseas.
The report also described Scotch as the "lifeblood of many rural communities", estimating that the industry sustained 7,400 rural jobs and contributed about £900m in gross value added (GVA).
It added that despite a slowdown in exports, the sector was expanding "at unprecedented levels" with about 30 new distilleries being planned or built across Scotland.
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."