The head of India's largest spirits company has played down reports of a rift between the country and the Scotch whisky industry.

Vijay Mallya, the head of UB Group, which bought Scotch producer Whyte & Mackay last year, was reported at the weekend to have accused the Scotch Whisky Association of being a "paranoid organisation". The SWA and India have come to blows on an almost monthly basis over the taxation of imported spirits into India.

Despite the abolition of the additional duty levied on imported spirits by the Indian government last year, individual states in the country have since introduced their own taxes on spirits from abroad.

"The media, in general, seems to be very interested about the perceived conflict that Indian spirits manufacturers have with the Scotch Whisky Association," Mallya said today (15 April). "I have often been bombarded with questions from journalists all over the world, every time the subject of Scotch whisky comes up.

"We in India not only welcome the Scotch whisky industry, we acknowledge the Scotch whisky industry, and we wish to wholly co-operate with the Scotch whisky industry.

"If that were not the case, I would certainly not have invested GBP600m (US$1.17bn) in acquiring Whyte & Mackay."

Paul Walsh, the chairman of the SWA, said earlier today that "open dialogue" was the way forward in solving any disputes on the matter.