Drinks giant Diageo has hailed a 12% rise in global Scotch whisky sales, as a senior executive condemned controversial changes to the alcohol duty system in the UK.

The Johnnie Walker distiller reported a 5.1% rise in operating profit to £4.6 billion, as organic net sales climbed by 6% to £17.1bn, for the year ended June 30.

It highlighted double-digit percentage growth across its Scotch whisky, Tequila, and beer portfolios, with Guinness recording its "biggest year" in its 264-year history.

READ MORE: Scotch whisky boss who 'challenged the status quo' retires

The results were announced on the day a new alcohol duty system was introduced in the UK, which has resulted in the largest duty increase on Scotch whisky in 40 years. The change, which was first announced in the Spring Budget, will increase the tax burden on the average priced bottle of Scotch whisky to 75% from 70%.

Ewan Andrew, Diageo’s global supply chain and procurement president and chief sustainability officer, said the company's whisky sales during the period had been “across the board”. Sales of flagship brand Johnnie Walker, the blended Scotch, increased by 15%, while single malts grew by 16% amid strong growth in Asia Pacific, North America, and Latin America.

Mr Andrew said: “Every month there are 400 million consumers choosing to drink Scotch globally. That is a massive number and nearly a quarter are choosing Johnnie Walker. And nearly a third of Johnnie Walker drinkers are now female.”

READ MORE: Sunak bids to put SNP on back foot over North Sea oil

While Diageo was reporting strong whisky sales and Mr Andrew underlined its confidence of future growth, he criticised the UK Government's decision to increase duty on Scotch in its home market. He fears the hike will have a damaging effect on smaller distillers which rely heavily on UK consumers.

“In the UK market it is certainly a headwind,” Mr Andrew said. “We said in March when it came out that it would be a hammer blow to the industry, in particular to the consumers and the pubs in the UK. I think that absolutely stands true.

“We had a commitment from the UK Government to look at making Scotch and gin producers more competitive and that is not what has happened. We continue to call on government to review and make it a more fair and equitable scheme. It’s been around for 200 years now – 1823 was the Duty Act – and to me it is quite shocking they have come out with a 10% increase.

“I’m not a supporter. I think that it causes probably some of the smaller players who are reliant on the domestic market [problems]. Diageo has got some natural insulation with its global footprint.

"The UK is the fifth biggest global market for the Scotch whisky industry, and it needs to be seen as competitive and at the right price points. It needs to encourage all of us to continue to invest in Scotch.”

The results were the first announced by Diageo since the sudden death of former chief executive Sir Ivan Menezes in June. Sir Ivan has been succeeded by Debra Crew, who had already named by the company as his successor under a planned transition.

Shares in Diageo closed up 10.5p, or 0.31%, at 3,408p.