Diageo has completed the first stage in its Scotch whisky investment programme.

The drinks giant confirmed today (21 September) that it has officially opened a new GBP12m (US$) bottling line at its Shieldhall plant in Scotland. The line will produce 300 bottles of Diageo's Johnnie Walker brand a minute, reaching an estimated 4.5m cases a year.

The Shieldhall operation bottles 23m cases of Scotch annually, representing 25% of the Scotch whisky bottled globally. The company said that the extra capacity will allow Diageo to meet anticipated long term demand in growing markets including Brazil, Russia, India, China and Mexico.

In February, Diageo pledged to spend in the region of GBP100m on expanding its operations in the country. Around GBP80m will be spent on expanding capacity in malt and grain distilling throughout Scotland, including the first new major malt distillery for more than 30 years.