A NATIONWIDE 'Save Our Scotch’ campaign is being launched to ensure that all Scotch whisky is bottled in Scotland, amid a growing threat to jobs in the industry.

The move came after it emerged drinks giant Diageo could move bottling of it vodka brands out of Scotland, threatening over 100 jobs in Fife and Glasgow.

The Unite union has launched the campaign following fears that this could be the start of moves to increase the overseas bottling, blending, labelling and packaging of spirit produced in Scotland – including Scotch whisky.

Single grain malt and blended whisky can be shipped overseas in bulk, where importers can carry our further blending and package it any way they see fit.

Only Scotch single malt whisky has to be bottled in Scotland because it has special geographical status.

But Unite, which represents workers in the industry, wants that protection to be extended to all Scotch whisky.

Unite regional secretary Pat Rafferty said: “Scotch whisky is a product of the land and people of Scotland. It’s appreciated and respected around the world – but its reputation is based on its history in Scotland.

“We want all Scotch whisky to be distilled, blended, packaged, bottled and labelled in Scotland. All aspects of whisky production from grain to glass should now be protected.

“That will safeguard the reputation of Scotch for the years to come and it will also ensure that Scottish workers get the full benefit from this unique product.”

Seventy jobs are expected to go at Diageo's Leven plant by the end of the year and 35 at its Shieldhall site, unless new bottling contracts can be won. Diageo's bottling plant in Italy is running below capacity after it disposed of its wine business.

Unite will lobby politicians at Holyrood and Westminster in the coming weeks, and is seeking to get parties to pledge on the issue in the run up to June’s General Election.

The GMB union, which also represents workers in Scotland's whisky industry, said Brexit was to blame for the difficulties facing the sector.

A spokesperson said: "It should not be ignored that amid a snap election about Brexit, the issue itself is already impacting on skilled Scottish employment and with no response by the same politicians seeking to strengthen their mandate to govern."

However, Julie Hesketh-Laird, Acting Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, which represents Diageo, said Unite's proposal would damage trade with overseas importers of Scotch whisky.

She said: "A total ban on bulk exports would face serious legal and regulatory obstacles in the UK and EU, and would significantly affect trade with a large number of countries which have been importing bulk Scotch whisky for many decades.”

Meanwhile, the SWA said it was “feeling optimistic” as new figures showed the industry’s international trade grew by 4% in 2016 after levelling off and recording small declines in recent years.

A UK Government spokesperson, in response to Unite, said: “These products are extremely important to our reputation as a great food nation and we will work to ensure they continue to benefit from protection.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson added: “The possible reduction of roles at Diageo’s Scottish sites is deeply disappointing news. Scottish Enterprise is engaging with the company to explore all possible options for supporting those affected, and we will work with the company to safeguard Scottish jobs.”