Distillers have defended the authenticity of Scotch whisky after it was revealed increasing amounts of barley used in the drink are being imported from England.

Despite the recent ­recession, the whisky trade continues to boom and ­Scottish farmers can no longer cope with the surge in demand for barley.

The UK now requires 800,000 tonnes of malting barley every year and some believe that figure could rise to 950,000 tonnes by 2019.

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This has led to more English farmers cashing in from desperate distilleries north of the Border struggling to produce enough of Scotland's national drink.

Bobby Anderson, manager of Speyburn distillery in Rothes on Speyside, insisted sourcing English barley did not mean Scotch whisky was no longer Scottish.

He said: "It's true that barley is being used from England and it wouldn't be incorrect to say that the levels of barley from England are increasing.

"However, it doesn't make Scotch whisky any less ­Scottish - not from my perspective anyway."

A spokeswoman from the Scotch Whisky Association said which country the barley came from was not a matter that changed the heritage of Scotch whisky.

She said: "There's nothing to say the barley can't come from England or indeed elsewhere in the world."