LONDON -- Scotch whisky exports rose 17 percent in the first half of 2010 as consumers in markets including the U.S. and South Korea bought more expensive spirits.

Exports rose in nine of the top 10 export markets by value, including South Korea, where sales soared 69 percent, the Scotch Whisky Association said. Shipments to Greece declined due to "tough economic conditions." Whisky sales were driven by the United States, the No. 1 market by value and No. 2 by volume, where revenue increased 34 percent and volume rose 21 percent.

The volume of shipments to Thailand and India increased 79 percent and 36 percent, respectively, as consumers in emerging markets drank more Scotch.

Diageo Plc, the world's biggest distiller, reported a "modest improvement" in price and sales mix in the three months ended Sept. 30, signaling consumers were starting to pay more for spirits after trading down during the recession. The company makes the world's biggest Scotch whisky brand, Johnnie Walker.

Pernod-Ricard SA, maker of The Glenlivet single malt Sotch whisky, reported revenue growth of 17 percent in the first quarter compared with volume growth of 10 percent.