Beijing/London: A new 3 million pound fund has been set up to allow Chinese whisky connoisseurs to invest in some of Scotland's rarest drams as well as help boost exports to China, where an austerity drive by the ruling Communist party has badly hit sales.
The fund, generated by members of the Single Malt Club China (SMCC), will be used to buy rare and valuable malts for the Chinese market.
The initiative was announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as she arrived in China for a trade mission.
Sturgeon also said new figures showing food and drink exports to China totalled 85 million pounds last year, the BBC reported.
During the mission, Sturgeon will open the SMCC's new Whisky Experience Centre in Beijing, which will showcase the malt whisky production process with photographs and items from distilleries.
"Scotch whisky is world famous and is one of our most iconic products. Scotland is the home of whisky and there is a clear global demand for our national drink," Sturgeon said.
It will also display single malts that are available in China.
The SMCC, which was set up in 2005, imported 60,000 bottles of Scotch last year.
The new 3 million pound Whisky Investment Fund is expected to help lift that figure by another 20 per cent over the next year.
Sturgeon said: "The Single Malt Club China has worked hard to promote Scotch whisky for a decade and now has nearly 5,000 members throughout China.
"It also works with 31 of our distilleries, so the support for our industry is clear, and this fund will allow Chinese whisky connoisseurs to invest in some of Scotland's finest and rarest drams."
The move comes as Scotch whisky firms look to boost sales in China, which have been hit by an ongoing austerity campaign by the Chinese authorities.
Chinese leaders have regularly launched anti-corruption drives, and since taking office in 2013, President Xi Jinping has ordered an end to excessive gift-giving and banquets within the state sector, amid rising anger among the Chinese public at widespread official splurge.
According to figures released recently by the Scotch Whisky Association, direct exports to the country fell by 23 per cent to 39 million pounds last year, making it Scotch's 26th largest market by value.
However, overall food and drink exports to China rose by 12 per cent to 85 million pounds last year, according to new data announced by Sturgeon.