Reports that a growing number of Russian distilleries are turning their stills to whisky do not pose a threat to Scotch growth, says the Scotch Whisky Association.

Competing distilleries in Russia's northern Caucasus have set up to produce whisky, one in the style of Irish and the other Scotch, according to a report in this weekend's Scotland on Sunday newspaper.

Scotch distillers remain unperturbed by an emerging challenge to their fast-growing export sales in one of the world's bastions of vodka consumption, however.

Scotch sales to Russia rose by 33% in volume and 57% in value, to GBP17.7m, for the first ten months of 2008, the Scotch Whisky Association told just-drinks today (12 January).

A spokesperson said that Russia is an integral market for Scotch whisky sales going forward. He said of Russian-made whisky: "This is a reflection of how well Scotch is going down in Russia. Consumers are aware of what Scotch is and it is already well received."