Scots say 76% whisky tax unfair

30 Dec 2015


• More than 90% of Scots say the current Scotch Whisky tax is unfair
• 85% of the wider British public surveyed agree

SCOTS overwhelmingly consider the 76% tax levied on a bottle of Scotch Whisky to be unfair.

In a poll conducted on behalf of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), an overwhelming 92% of Scots said that they believed the current tax paid on an average priced bottle of whisky in the UK was unfair.

More than three quarters of the price of a bottle of Scotch (76%) is tax paid to the Exchequer in excise duty and VAT. As well as being unfair to consumers, the industry believes that the onerous level of tax is damaging to the economy. The SWA says that if less tax was levied, more jobs could be safeguarded and smaller businesses could flourish.

Scotch is already a great success story, with 117 distilleries, employing more than 10,000 people in Scotland, supporting 40,000 jobs across the UK and generating £5 billion in value each year. However the SWA says the industry cannot be taken for granted.

And the wider British public agrees. Of those surveyed, 85% agreed that the tax was unfair. Women in particular - 90% of those polled - believed that tax levels were unfair.

Drinkers - currently paying around £10* of tax on every bottle they buy - would also benefit if duty levels were reduced.

Last year, in a historic Budget, George Osborne cut the rate of spirits duty for the first time in almost 20 years - by two per cent. The SWA believes that was a good start but more has to be done by the UK Government to support the industry.

David Frost, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "Thousands of Scots are preparing to celebrate Hogmanay with the traditional glass of Scotch.  But almost all of them clearly believe it is wrong that 76% of the price of a bottle of whisky goes straight to the Treasury.  We agree that's unfair too."

"The bold move by George Osborne in this year's Budget to cut excise duty by 2% gave a boost to our 117 Scotch Whisky distilleries and across our UK supply chain. But that was the first cut in spirits duty in almost 20 years and was only the fifth time that tax on whisky has ever been cut since distilling became legal in 1832.

"So there's more to be done and we want the UK Government to build on that first step they've taken. It's an exciting time for an iconic Scottish and British industry that is the envy of the world. An industry that creates jobs but also supports thousands of people who work in hospitality, retail and logistics industries the length and breadth of the UK.

Note to Editors

*£9.91 of tax on a averagely priced bottle of Scotch whisky

About the SWA:
The Scotch Whisky Association is the industry's representative body and promotes the long-term, global interests of Scotch Whisky as a high quality spirit drink, of its 58member companies, and the Scotch Whisky industry overall.

For more information please contact:

Rosemary Gallagher     Fraser Walters
Head of Communications    Edelman
Public Affairs & Communications   020 3047 2480
Scotch Whisky Association 
0743 260 5385