Whisky Magazine Issue 22
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In Issue 20, Pip Hills argued, with some passion, the case for Scotch being a cultural product. Surely the government will be doing whatever it can to support and energise the industry? At the time of writing, The Scottish Affairs Select Committee has issued a report calling for ‘the end of tax discrimination against Scotch whisky.' Well, about time. According to Hugh Morison, Chief Executive of The Scotch Whisky Association, ‘the Committee has recognised that there is no logical basis for the higher tax imposed on Scotch'. For our overseas readers I will reiterate the current taxation system in the UK: whisky is taxed one-and-a-half times more than wine. That's right. Britain's fifth biggest export is discriminated against in the domestic market and, with delicious British bureaucratic irony, we offer a competitive advantage to imports! I believe that is what is known as adding insult to injury. Can you imagine a situation where, for example, the French were to tax imported wine at a lower rate than domestic produce? Imagine the public outcry if German motorists were to face higher rates of tax to buy BMWs rather than imported marques.
Were this discrimination to end, the report predicts the consumption of spirits would increase relative to wine. ‘This would have a positive impact on the Scottish economy and … could be achieved at little cost to the Exchequer.' So far so good. Hugh Morison again: ‘Nevertheless, under the Committee's recommendations full tax equali...