DIAGEO has reported strong growth in its Scottish whisky businesses in its interim results for the last six months.

As the company, one of the world’s largest producers of beer and spirits, tempered its sales outlook it also hailed its Scotch results with its single malt portfolio seeing 17 per cent growth for the half-year to December 31, 2019.

It said there was “little or no impact” from the October US export tariff of 25% on Scotch but said it would continue, along with fellow producers, to press for a de-escalation of the tariff regime.

Diageo also said it continues to prepare for a hard Brexit later this year but welcomed greater certainty over the move and urged Westminster to continue to work towards minimal disruption.

It said its half-year performance was in line with guidance despite the impact of volatility in India, Latin America and Caribbean and travel retail.

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Stripping that out, it saw 5% growth in Scotland overall, with leading brand Johnny Walker seeing 3% growth.

Ewan Andrew, president, global supply chain and procurement at Diageo, said: “There has been continued growth in our North America business, our Africa business and underlying in Asia.

“Beer has been a success too, with growth at 2.5% in the UK.”

He said: “Underlying Scottish has seen really healthy growth, of 5% overall.

“Johnny Walker is up 3% and malt is a big highlight, with 17% growth in our single malt portfolio with brands of Lagavulin, Talisker, The Singleton and Mortlach enjoying significant growth around the world.”

He said this is “broad-based and all markets in counties other than those areas with some specific volatility challenges”.

He said: “Good solid results, and we’re pleased.”

However, on tariffs, he added: “What is good for Scotch is good for Scotland and tariffs is currently something that has a level of concern.” He said the firm is “encouraging de-escalation and that is through both the Scotch Whisky Association and our own conversations on either side of the Atlantic to really try and take it away from consumer products but particularly Scotch.”

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He said the greatest concern would be the impact on the broader industry but also rural and farming communities.

Diageo tempered its wider sales expectations for the current year as it faces a backdrop of "ongoing uncertainty".

The London-listed firm said net sales increased by 4.2% to £7.2 million for the six months.

It added that operating profit increased by 0.5% to £2.4 billion as organic growth was offset by unfavourable exchange rates.e progress, but warned that the company "would not be immune from further policy changes" in an uncertain political environment.

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Diageo said it expects net sales growth for the full year to be towards the lower end of its forecast range, of between 4% and 6% growth.

The company said all its spirits categories reported growth for the period, apart from vodka, which reported a modest level on decline.

Diageo said it was particularly buoyed by strong growth in tequila, particularly in North America, while gin sales remained strong globally.

The company's shares dipped slightly on the six-month interim results, by 2.67%, or 82p, to 3,027p.