The full extent of foreign ownership of Scotland's malt whisky industry is revealed today by research which finds that only 29 of the country's 102 distilleries are controlled by Scottish firms.

See our infographic here and then try our whisky trivia quiz here

More than 40% of the distilleries are ultimately owned by overseas companies, based in countries such as France, Japan, Thailand and Bermuda.

Almost a third are owned by London-based firms, notably Diageo, which runs 28 distilleries - almost the same as the Scottish total - and boasts brands like Talisker and Lagavulin.

Just over a quarter are in Scottish hands and most of them are relatively small concerns. Only the Edrington Group, maker of the Macallan and Highland Park, and Wm Grant and Sons, which produces Glenfiddich, can claim to be major players in the sector.

The global breakdown of companies is: UK 30, Scotland 29, France 18, Japan 7, Thailand 5, Bermuda 5, Philippines 4, South Africa 3, and Italy 1. Ownership patterns vary across the five malt-producing regions: Highland, Speyside, Islay, Lowland, and Campbeltown.

The other multinationals with a significant stake in the malt industry include France's Pernod Ricard (13 distilleries), and Japan's Beam Suntory, Thailand's Inver House, and Bermuda-based Bacardi, all of which have five.

The research, by a HeraldScotland team, does not measure capacity of output from the distilleries, or corporate profits, and is intended only to illustrate how many nations are involved in a marque which is seen as quintessentially Scottish.

All single malt Scotch whisky must be bottled in Scotland, so the sector is less vulnerable to outsourcing or relocation than other traditional industries.

But the effect of remote ownership was demonstrated in recent years when Diageo closed its Johnnie Walker whisky blending plant in Kilmarnock with the loss of 700 jobs. It provoked a political storm, but no change of heart from the world's biggest distiller.

However, industry observers note the resurgence of the whisky sector over the past 15 years has been driven by expansion in global markets, which multinationals are better equipped to serve than small Scottish-owned firms.

Rosemary Gallagher, Scotch Whisky Association spokeswoman, said: "Scotch Whisky is an iconic Scottish product recognised globally and exported to around 200 markets worldwide. It must be made and matured in Scotland. Its distilleries attract many visitors to the country and its quality reputation helps open doors for other Scottish products overseas.

"It is part of a highly competitive drinks industry and its diverse ownership is a key factor in its success. Some Scotch Whisky distilleries are family-run, others are owned by larger Scottish and British firms and some are international.

"Investment in the industry by companies with international networks has led to further expansion and helped many Scotch Whisky businesses break into new markets from Latin America to Asia and Africa.

"About £2 billion of capital investment in the Scotch Whisky is planned over the next couple of years and around 30 new distilleries are being planned or built, many by new entrants to the market."

Last week, the association, covering manufacturers of malts and blends, published research which demonstrates the industry's importance to the Scottish and UK economies ahead of the March Budget.

The findings include:

*Overall economic contribution to UK is almost £5bn.

* Direct economic impact of industry, ignoring its wider economic benefits, is £3.3bn, up 21% since 2008.

* Each year, Scotch Whisky producers spend £1.8bn on suppliers. Some 90% of that expenditure is in the UK, including £1.4bn in Scotland. Dry goods, including bottles and packaging, cereals, energy and transport and distribution make up the majority of purchases.

* The industry supports 40,300 jobs in the UK - up from around 35,000 in 2008 - in a range of sectors including glass manufacturing and labelling. This total includes 10,900 people directly employed by the industry in Scotland, up 6%.

* Every job in Scotch Whisky supports a further 2.7 British jobs.

* As well as supporting employment in towns and cities, Scotch Whisky is the lifeblood of many rural communities where it sustains 7,400 jobs and generates around £250m of income.