United Spirits, owned by Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya, has said it is not concerned about an economic slowdown following 18% volume growth in its fiscal year-to-date.

Volumes rose 18% to reach 73m cases for the nine-month period from April to December, a United Spirits spokesperson confirmed to just-drinks today (8 January).

The group, which is the world's third largest spirits firm by volume, attributed the rise to new packaging for a number of whisky brands, including flagship McDowell's No.1, as well as strong marketing.

Spirits sector volume growth for the same period was 12%, said United Spirits, which is part of Vijay Mallya's UB Group.

Some analysts have said that a predicted slowdown in India's economy this year, as part of the global financial problems, may pile more pressure onto consumer goods firms. India's GDP is expected to fall from 9% in 2007 to nearer 6% in 2009, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

"We have not seen any effects from this," said the United Spirits spokesperson. Asked about 2009, she said: "We expect volumes to continue at the same pace, if not faster. We think it is highly unlikely that they will go down."

United Spirits yesterday launched Scotch whisky Whyte & Mackay Special in Mumbai, in the Indian state of Maharashtra.

Whyte & Mackay Special will be bottled at the United Spirits plant in Nashik. The group plans to roll the brand out in key markets across India next month.