THERE appears to be some cloudiness over the future of uisge beatha with the news Diageo is putting more than £50 million of investment in Scotch whisky distilleries on hold.

Before we all start weeping into our malts - and possibly ruining the taste by doing so - it is worth keeping a sense of perspective on the state of the industry.

It would be easy to add the Diageo information to the fact the value of Scotch whisky exports fell 11 per cent in the first half of the year and extrapolate that the industry could be on the way back to mothballing sites again. But a closer examination would give a much more balanced picture.

While exports did indeed dip in the first six months of 2014 they still accounted for a fairly substantial £1.77 billion. Dial back a decade to 2004 and the value of sales in the first half of that year was £982m.

Even allowing for a bit of price inflation it is clear Scotch has been on a sustained growth trajectory which was always likely to falter at some point.

Meanwhile Diageo has invested heavily in the past few years, building the Roseisle distillery while also increasing capacity at existing sites.

While it is disappointing that the next phase of investment has been parked for the time being some encouragement must be taken that it has not been scrapped completely.

The Johnnie Walker maker is not alone in the drinks industry in feeling the short-term chill of Chinese austerity measures. While other markets in Asia continue to display a great appetite for Scotch, a crackdown on conspicuous consumption has harmed sales in China at groups such as Chivas Brothers owner Pernod Ricard and Remy Cointreau, which owns Bruichladdich.

Crucially, the measures in China appear to be affecting many categories of imported drinks, not just Scotch.As yet Pernod, which has a smaller distilling base than Diageo in Scotland, has made no suggestion its recently completed distillery at Carron on Speyside will be operating below its capacity. Similarly, Edrington Group remains committed to its £100 million upgrade on The Macallan distillery near Craigellachie, which is also on Speyside.

The making of Scotch whisky is a long-term endeavour and all the major industry players continue to sing from the same hymn book and have consistently reiterated that there will be major long-term growth for global Scotch markets, including China.

As if to underline this there are more than 20 new distilleries, with no ties to the global conglomerates, at various stages of development across the whole of Scotland from the Lowlands and Central Belt to the Highlands and Islands.

A number of these are being brought to market by experienced drinks industry professionals who have spent time at home and abroad in some of the major groups.

They clearly believe the long-term growth trend for Scotch whisky is only going to continue upwards.

The United States and France have long been the biggest consumers of Scotch, but perhaps in another 10 years they might be challenged by China, Nigeria and Argentina.