SCOTCH whisky giant Diageo has unveiled plans to axe more than 20 roles from its malt distilling team in Scotland just three weeks before Christmas.

The Johnnie Walker maker, which is Scotland’s biggest whisky distiller, is proposing to cut 22 jobs as part of an ongoing efficiency review. It did not disclose the names of the distilleries affected, though a high concentration of its malt whisky distilleries are in the Speyside region.

Diageo employs 550 people in its malt distilling team in Scotland. It has opened a consultation process with employees.

A Diageo spokesman said: “We continually review all aspects of our operations to ensure we are set up in the most agile and efficient way. We have been sharing a new, more flexible operating model proposal with our distillery employees which could mean the removal of 22 roles from the current 550 roles across our malt distilling footprint. As a result, we have now commenced a consultation process with our people and their representatives.”

It is understood the firm has no plans to close any of its distilleries. Diageo is currently investing £185 million to upgrade visitor centres at its flagship whisky distilleries, and is recruiting 150 staff for its new Johnnie Walker visitor experience in Edinburgh.