Diageo has lodged a planning application with Moray Council for the first major distillery in Scotland for more than 30 years.

Amounting to one of the biggest investments in Scotch for decades, Diageo said the application will seek the building of "an ambitious and highly innovative" malt distillery at Roseisle, where Diageo already operates a major maltings facility.

Situated between Elgin and Forres, the proposed new distillery amounts to a GBP40m (US$81.3m) investment by wine and spirits giant in the area and is part of the company's GBP100m ($203.2m) expansion plan in Scotland announced in February - one of the biggest ever in the industry.

This will see approximately GBP80m ($162.5m) spent on expanding capacity in malt and grain distilling, and GBP20m ($40.6m) in packaging and warehousing throughout Scotland.

"The building of a new distillery, using the most modern environmental and distilling techniques, comes at a time of sustained growth in Diageo's Scotch Whisky business worldwide. The capacity of the new distillery will help meet anticipated long-term demand for the company's brands in growing markets like Brazil, Russia, India, China and Mexico," the company said.

Subject to planning consents, it is hoped that construction of the new malt distillery, producing single malt spirit for a range of Diageo's blended Scotch Whiskies, will begin this year with the distillery opening in early 2009. On that schedule, the first mature spirit from the distillery would be available from 2012.

It is expected that the distillery will create around 25 new jobs with Diageo in terms of operational and support staff.

Bryan Donaghey, managing director of Diageo Scotland, said: "This substantial investment in Moray underpins our commitment to the area and to Scotland as a whole. It is an investment that is essential to the long-term strategy for the development of our business here and has been made possible by the close and constructive relationship we have nurtured with Moray Council, the wider local community and other key stakeholders.

"With this new state of the art distillery we aim to meet demand well into the future - a good deal for the local area, the Scotch Whisky industry and the Scottish economy."