Be fair George, Drop the Duty

As we approach Christmas, many Brits (your author included) will be stocking up with a few bottles to enjoy over long festive lunches. Whether your tipple of choice is a peaty Scotch whisky or a full-bodied French red, however, somebody else will be very glad of your purchase – the Chancellor.

Some sobering statistics: 56 per cent of a wine bottle is tax. That number rises to 76 per cent for vodka, 78 per cent for whisky, and a frankly monstrous 79 per cent on gin.

That’s why we were pleased to support the launch this morning of Drop the Duty, the new campaign from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association and the Scotch Whisky Association, at the Punch Tavern on London’s Fleet Street.


Politicians keep talking about a cost of living crisis, but if those on the lowest incomes fancy a drink they pay through the nose in taxes. This doesn’t just apply to wine and spirits, of course. The Treasury took more from the average household in tax last year than that household spent on food, housing and energy. The biggest hit on the cost of living, from spirits duty to VAT, is the tax burden.

This doesn’t just hurt hard-pressed consumers, but jobs and growth too.

Politicians are always very happy to celebrate the success of world-leading British industries and companies. That is nowhere more the case than in the booze business. Scotch whisky, despite competition from Japan and elsewhere, remains top of the tree when it comes to quality and variety, as well as providing thousands of jobs north of the border. The gin market is booming (9 of ShortList magazine’s top 10 world gins were distilled in the UK) and, most promisingly, a mild spring, warm summer and balmy autumn mean that the 2014 vintage of English wine is expected to be the best ever. If politicians want to help these industries push on, expand, and create more jobs, it would make sense to make it easier for hard-working Brits to buy the products themselves!

The Chancellor has one more chance to give a much-loved industry a break and cut the duty on wine and spirits before the election, and it’s crucial that he takes it. Visit the website at and register your support.

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