The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and Scottish Craft Distillers Association (SCDA) have signed a memorandum of understanding that will see the groups work together to support the Scotch whisky industry and its supply chain.

The SWA counts the biggest producers of Scotch – Diageo and Chivas Brothers – among its members, while the SCDA was formed in 2014 to support the growing number of new distilleries opening across Scotland.

Fourteen distilleries have started production since 2013 with a further eight set to open this year, as the industry sees an unprecedented surge of investment from new businesses. There are currently up to 40 new distilleries at various stages of planning and development across Scotland.

The agreement, signed at the new Glasgow Distillery in Hillington, and witnessed by Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, recognises that Scotch whisky is: “a significant Scottish and British cultural asset based on authentic and unvarying local methods of production, with distilleries and brands supporting the communities with which they work; creating jobs and boosting growth”.

The SWA and SCDA said they would support each other, while remaining distinct organisations with their own memberships. The partnership will make it easier for well-established Scotch companies to share their experience of building brands and opening up overseas markets with newer entrants to the industry. Newer companies can, in turn, offer fresh approaches and ideas to drive continued vitality across the industry.

Mr Ewing said: “This is exactly the sort of collaboration we want to see in our food and drink sector. Closer co-operation has the potential to benefit both organisations and help ensure the continued success of the Scotch Whisky industry and its supply chain.”

Scotch Whisky, adds about £5 billion in value each year to the economy, supporting more than 40,000 jobs and exporting £4bn of Scotch annually to almost 200 markets.

Julie Hesketh-Laird, Scotch whisky association acting chief executive, said: “We are seeing unprecedented investment in the Scotch Whisky industry by companies of all sizes. This is a clear sign of optimism in the future, and recognition of the global demand for a high-quality product.”

Alan Wolstenholme, Scottish craft distillers association chairman, said: “Both long-established Scotch Whisky producers and the new wave of smaller distilleries recognise the enormous value and importance of the high regard our national product is held in around the world.

“This agreement demonstrates both organisations’ determination to work co-operatively together to protect and enhance Scotch Whisky’s reputation now and in the future.”