FIVE whisky distilling projects have received grants in the latest round of funding announced by the Scottish Government for food and drink businesses.

In a move signalling the continuing importance ministers are attaching to Scotch whisky, grants worth around £5.36 million will help fund the construction of five new distilleries around Scotland, with two of the projects featuring the construction of new bonded warehouses.

Forty jobs are expected to be created on the strength of the developments.

The cash for the distilleries is included in an £8.5m funding round announced under the Food Processing Marketing and Co-operation (FPMC) scheme, which will also help a range of food companies expand, improve or move to new production facilities.

Ministers say the latest batch of funding means 175 Scottish projects have been supported by £47m since the scheme was launched in 2009.

The Adelphi Distillery at Ardnamurchan, Argyll, has been granted £1.77m towards the cost of a new green distillery, which has seen the owner commit to boosting the local food chain by sourcing all of the malted barely it requires in Scotland and allowing by-products from distilling to be used by local farmers.

Keith Falconer, chairman of Adelphi Distillery, said: "Adelphi is delighted to have been awarded this FPMC grant towards the construction of its Ardnamurchan Distillery. This will represent a new, greener direction for Scotch whisky production, combining minimum environmental impact and maximum sustainable efficiency to create the very highest quality Scottish product."

A grant of £1.58m has been handed to John Fergus & Co to build a micro distillery and bonded warehouse in Glenrothes while £1.27m will be contributed to a similar project in Ballindalloch, Speyside,

In other grants for whisky businesses, £444,403 will help meet the cost of the Falkirk Whisky Distillery in Polmont, while £292,460 was granted to help build a new distillery at Anniston Farms in Angus.

Away from whisky some of the biggest awards went Graham's Dairies, granted £482,770 to acquire a new site for yoghurt and cheese lines in Nairn, and Rannoch Smokery at Kinloch Rannoch, which has received £138,211 to help meet the cost of upgrading its factory and meat curing line.

In addition to the FPMC grants, ministers also announced that six firms have been awarded a total of £546,000 under its Marketing Development scheme for food and drink companies.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "The growth and success of the Scottish drinks industry is continuing and this fund- ing will benefit several companies across Scotland."