EU ruling on minimum alcohol pricing due this week

David Williamson says the SWA has made a strong case. Picture: Colin Hattersley

David Williamson says the SWA has made a strong case. Picture: Colin Hattersley

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A KEY legal European legal ruling is due this week on the minimum pricing of alcohol in Scotland, with the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) confident it has “made a strong case” against it.

The Advocate General at the European Court of Justice will deliver his opinion on Thursday on the legality of the Scottish government’s decision to bring in a minimum unit price of 50p in May 2012.

That has been delayed by a legal challenge brought by the SWA, supported by other European wines and spirits producers, which has argued it breaches European law.

David Williamson, the public affairs and communications director for the Scotch trade body, said yesterday: “The association awaits the Advocate General’s opinion with interest.

“Supported by a number of EU member states, we’ve made a strong case that the scheme would be ineffective and contrary to European law, with less trade restrictive measures available to tackle alcohol misuse.” The case was referred to the European Court of Justice last year.

The full court will deliver a final ruling late in 2015/early 2016. It comes as a new report out today said the market for rare whisky continued to boom in the first six months of this year.

It saw 20,638 bottles of single malt Scotch whisky sold in the UK on the open market, a jump of 35 per cent, or 5,374 bottles, on the same period last year.

The value of “collectables” sold at auction leapt 33.8 per cent, or 5,374 bottles, to £4.6 million, the report by Rare Whisky 101, the whisky broker said.

Andy Simpson, co-founder of the company said it showed “demand for rare whisky and the supply of bottles at auction are both accelerating at an extraordinary rate and this is driving up values.”

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