Diageo faces renewed opposition to its plans to downsize production of Johnnie Walker north of the border after the Scots government assembled a task force to combat the proposed cuts.

A cross-party group headed by finance secretary John Swinney will this week put forward an alternative to the planned closures, which would see 900 jobs go across sites in Kilmarnock and Port Dundas in Glasgow.

Swinney said: “[The new plans] are based around continued production activity at Port Dundas. The approach that has to be taken is to strengthen that facility within the overall operational plans of Diageo. Secondly, we are taking forward the option of a green-field site in Kilmarnock, which will be a new packaging and bottling facility.”

Diageo, which will tomorrow announce first-half profits of more than £2bn, has already rejected one set of alternatives proposals drawn up by critics of the Johnnie Walker cuts.