Excise Duty Rise Is An Unfair and Incomprehensible Blow To Scotch Whisky

20 Mar 2013

  • 48% more duty on whisky than beer
  • 47 pence increase on bottle of whisky

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said the Chancellor's decision to increase duty on spirits, while cutting beer duty, is unfair, incomprehensible and undermines one of Britain's major industries in its home market.

The Budget announcement penalises consumers who choose Scotch Whisky over beer. Drinkers of a dram are now paying 48% more duty than a beer drinker, further distorting the alcohol drinks market in the UK.

The Association said this is an attack on a major British business - by law Scotch Whisky can only be made in Scotland - in its third most important market. A reduction in sales of spirits, which are largely bottled in Scotland for the UK market, will hit jobs and employment prospects.

It undermines efforts by the government and the industry to create fairer tax regimes for Scotch in its 200 overseas markets. It undermines the significant investment the industry is committing to secure future growth.

The 5.3% increase in spirits duty in today's Budget penalises the Scotch Whisky industry. The 47 pence rise, including duty and vat, sees the average price of a standard 70cl bottle of Scotch Whisky jump to £12.89 from £12.42.  This increase threatens sales and leads to less overall revenue for the Government.

Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said:

"This is an unfair and incomprehensible attack on the Scotch Whisky industry in its domestic market, where it is a vital part of the Scottish and UK economy and where it supports many other businesses. It penalises responsible drinkers who like a dram rather than a pint. There is no justification for spirits being taxed more heavily than beer.

"It also damages all the good work done to create fairer tax regimes overseas to provide a fairer playing field for Scotch Whisky. It hinders the government's ambitions for an export-led recovery."


The duty rise announced today increases the duty on a 70cl bottle from £7.51 to 7.90. With VAT (20%) charged on that extra duty, the total tax uplift on each bottle is 47 pence. The current average price of a 70cl bottle of standard Blended Scotch Whisky in the UK is £12.42.

For further information, please contact Rosemary Gallagher SWA communications manager on 0131 222 9230/0743 260 5385/rgallagher@swa.org.uk or Campbell Evans on 07768 002 262/cevans@swa.org.uk