The recent budget hike on spirits in the UK could lead to "unintended consequences", the Scotch Whisky Association has warned.

Last month, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, increased the duty in spirits in the UK by 10%, equating to GBP0.55 per bottle in the country. The increase was roundly condemned by spirits companies in the UK, with one spirits association dismissing the budget as one that "will not deliver".

Speaking at the World Whiskies Conference in Glasgow, today (15 April), Paul Walsh, the chairman of the SWA, and CEO of Diageo, said that the spirits industry was "both surprised and disappointed" at the introduction of the spirits tax hike.

"We thought we had very constructive dialogue with Government until then, but now I'm very unsure that I can say that dialogue exists at present," Walsh said.

"I think the laws of unintended consequences come into play."

Walsh suggested that, with cider receiving "favourable" treatment in comparison to Scotch, for example, "perhaps an alternative investment could be orchards in Poland rather than distilleries in Scotland".