Walsh takes over the role from Pernod Ricard’s director Richard Burrows, who has retired from the SWA after six years on its council.
Ian Curle, chief executive of The Edrington Group, has been appointed as the SWA vice-chairman in succession to Walsh.
Walsh, who has been a member of the SWA Council since 2001, said: “It is an honour to be invited by my industry colleagues to become chairman of The Scotch Whisky Association at a time when new opportunities for Scotch Whisky are developing worldwide. The SWA’s continuing priority must be to set a positive agenda in support of all its members, large and small.”
Walsh added that “leadership in the promotion of responsible attitudes to alcohol consumption” and “environmental sustainability” will be key priorities for the SWA in 2008.