Diageo unveils £1bn investment in Scotch whisky over the next five years

The firm plans to build a new malt distillery and create up to 500 new jobs.

Diageo's headquarters in Edinburgh

Drinks giant Diageo has announced £1bn investment in Scotch whisky production over the next five years.

The firm says it plans to build a new malt distillery as well as a major expansion programme of their existing plants.

Diageo say they also plan to invest in new warehousing capacity to house additional litres of Scotch whisky produced by the distillation investment.

It is thought the move could help to create up to 500 new jobs across the country, with around 100 apprentices and graduate trainees taken over the term of the investment.

Making the announcement, the company’s chief executive Paul Walsh said: "This is a pivotal moment in the development of the Scotch whisky category for Diageo. Over recent years our brands have achieved remarkable, sustained global growth.

"Scotch whisky is Scotland’s most celebrated manufactured export, led by brands like Johnnie Walker, resonating with consumers from Boston to Beijing. We expect that success to continue, particularly in the high growth markets around the world, which is why we are announcing this major investment in Scotch whisky production, committing over £1bn in the next five years, to seize that opportunity for global growth.

"This builds on the foundations we have already laid down over recent years through sustained investment in both production assets and in maturing Scotch inventories. Scotch whisky is a significant manufacturing export industry in the United Kingdom, driving domestic investment and job creation through our success in exporting to high growth markets around the world."

The company were heavily criticised after they closed their Johnnie Walker plant in Kilmarnock, ending the town's 192-year association with the brand. The decision, made in 2009, sparked local protests and an angry reaction from First Minister Alex Salmond.

Finance Secretary John Swinney welcomed Wednesday's news, adding: "The news that Diageo is to invest £1bn over the next five years in the Scotch Whisky industry is very welcome and a strong indication of the company's belief in the future of the sector. The investment in new distilleries and warehousing capacity is a vivid illustration of the positive and optimistic outlook for demand in the sector.

"The Scottish Government recognises the key role of the Scotch Whisky industry in our food and drink strategy and we look forward to working constructively with Diageo to take forward their investment plans in Scotland. This major decision by Diageo provides continued evidence that new private sector investment will help to deliver economic recovery and demonstrates that Scotland is very much open for business and investment."

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