Exclusive:Scotch Whisky issues new election plea as parties urged to 'give a dram' about Scotland

Political parties were also urged to reduce the burden in the next parliament.

The Scotch Whisky Association has urged all parties to “give a dram” about Scotland by ruling out further increases in excise duty on the country’s number one food and drink export.

It comes as new polling from Survation found that more than four in five Scots believe Scotch is important to the Scottish economy, with 90 percent saying they believe the beverage is important for exports and 91 per cent stating they regard Scotch as important for Scottish tourism.

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Chancellor Jeremy Hunt raised excise duty on Scotch Whisky and other spirits by 10.1 per cent from August 1 last year, and then froze duty at its current level in his November autumn statement.

This leaves UK excise duty on Scotch Whisky as the highest in the G7 and more than double the average duty rate across European nations.

The Scotch Whisky Association is now calling on the next government to reduce the excise duty burden on spirits in line with the European Union average by the end of the next parliament.

Mark Kent, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: “Scotch Whisky is a cornerstone of the Scottish economy. This poll shows that Scots recognise that, and want candidates across political parties to recognise it too. That means ruling out further increases in excise duty after last year’s devastating tax hike, which has ultimately cost the Treasury over £100 million, money that could’ve been used to support public services.

“Spirits like Scotch Whisky are taxed up to four times more than beer and cider. That is unfair, and something the next government must put right.”

Douglas Ross backed calls from The Scotch Whisky Association.Douglas Ross backed calls from The Scotch Whisky Association.
Douglas Ross backed calls from The Scotch Whisky Association.

He added: “Ruling out further tax hikes and reducing the tax burden over the next Parliament would be backed by voters, and a clear sign of support for Scotland’s flagship industry.”

At the current rate, 73 per cent of the cost of a bottle of Scotch Whisky in the UK is currently claimed in tax, and the drink is taxed more per unit of alcohol than beer, wine or cider.

Speaking after a visit to Strathisla Distillery in Keith, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross promised to stand up for the sector.

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He said: “I’ve never voted to increase duty on Scotch and never would. It is very clear that freezing duty, or even better reducing it, generates more revenue and supports this vital sector.

“Scotch whisky is an iconic product that we need to continue to support because the benefits it brings locally and nationally are clear to see with jobs created and millions of pounds of investment in distilleries and throughout the supply chain.”

Alistair Carmichael, Liberal Democrat candidate for Orkney and Shetland, said: “Between the Tories hiking tax to record levels and the SNP planning a legislative clampdown on spirits producers, neither of our parties of government have any credibility left to talk about supporting Scotch.“This is an industry that is of critical importance to some of the most economically fragile communities in the country. Distillers are a pillar for our economy in the Highlands and Islands – we need to support their growth, not drag them down with ever-higher taxes.”



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