Exports of Scotch whisky and Scottish salmon have soared to record levels, according to new HMRC data.

In 2017, Scotch whisky exports from the UK were valued at £4.36bn, up by £356.3m (9%) on 2016's figures.

Salmon exports grew to £600m in 2017, an £155.5m (35%) boost on the year before.

Scotch whisky exports rose both in terms of volume (1.6%) and value (8.9%) on the previous year - the equivalent of 1.23 billion bottles.

They accounted for 20% of all UK food and drink exports, with a boost in Scotch sales in the US, France, Germany, Singapore, Taiwan and South Africa.

The largest market growth for Scotch was in Latvia, where exports rose in value by 105% to £120m and to 37 million bottles in terms of volume, a 75% increase.

Exports of single malt Scotch whisky also experienced further growth, rising by 14.2% last year to £1.17bn.

The latest HMRC export data shows that Europe continues to be the top export market for both Scotch whisky and salmon.

Salmon exports to the European community rose from £199m in 2016 to £282m last year - a sharp 42% increase.

They also grew in North America by £43.7m to reach £203.7m, a rise of more than a quarter (27%).

The Scottish Government said the figures highlighted the importance to the economy of staying in the European single market.

Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: "These figures show that demand for Scotland's world-renowned food and drink continues not only to grow, but to soar.

"We have long been proud of our award-winning salmon and whisky sectors.

"Today's outstanding figures are a result of remarkable products and of sectors working together to create a national brand with a global reputation, underpinned by the Scotland Food and Drink Export Plan.

"We will continue to do all we can to support and protect our food and drink sector, which faces growing uncertainty in the labour and export markets as a result of Brexit, which poses a direct threat to this success by removing Scotland from the world's biggest single market, and its consumer base of almost half a billion people."

He added: "In addition 10,000 EU nationals work in our food and drink industry, which exports more than £2bn to Europe through the single market each year.

"While these figures are something to celebrate, it is a stark reminder of what is at stake if we are taken out of this important market."

Industry leaders hailed the news and praised the work done by whisky distillers and salmon farmers.

Karen Betts, CEO of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "These encouraging figures show how popular Scotch whisky is right around the world.

"Already a strong export, loved for its sophistication, diversity and provenance, it's great to see Scotch continuing to grow in established and new markets.

"Scotch whisky is not just a core part of Scotland's national identity and heritage, it is also a fundamental part of our export economy.

"With more than 40,000 jobs supported by the Scotch whisky industry across the UK, 7000 of which are in rural Scotland, it is crucial that we continue to support both the new wave of whisky entrepreneurs and established distillers who are taking Scotch to the world."

Chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, Scott Landsburgh, said: "The demand for Scottish salmon continues to grow in recognition of its taste, quality and provenance and these are key drivers for growth in the USA, EU and Asian markets.

"This record-breaking export success is a tribute to all those who work in salmon farming and is a further reminder of the importance of salmon to the Scottish economy and food and drink sector."