UB Group chairman Dr. Vijay Mallya has backed India's high taxes on Scotch whisky and said the country's distillers would fight to keep the duty regime in place, despite intense pressure from abroad.

Dr. Mallya said the Indian Government should maintain its high tariffs on Scotch imports despite lobbying from industry bodies including the UK's Scotch Whisky Association. The SWA has labelled duty levels in India as "excessive by international standards" with a bottle of Scotch facing tax of between 246-592%.

However, Dr. Mallya attacked the SWA's "extremely hostile" tactics and said the European Union ban on imports of Indian whisky was unfair.

"The SWA has been hostile to companies worldwide that manufacture whisky. They do not allow Indian whisky to enter the EU, so we will lobby the Indian Government to keep its duty levels."

Dr. Mallya, who is also a member of the Indian parliament, added: "In these days of alternative fuels and energy sources, it should not matter what is used as a raw material (in the production of whisky). We use molasses but in our view the end product is the same (as Scotch).

UB Group, which strengthened its position as India's largest distiller in March with the acquisition of rival Shaw Wallace, produces whisky brands including McDowell No. 1.

The SWA had failed to return a request for comment as just-drinks went to press.