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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Is Cheap Whisky a Scottish Birthright?

Living in Scotland means that you can get a decent bottle of Scotch at your local supermarket for under $12. That may all change because of a Scottish government plans to combat binge drinking and it has distillers upset.

A plan would set minimum per drink charges for alcohol sold in supermarkets. That would mean that supermarket-brand Scotch would increase in price to $18 a bottle, effectively raising the price to what some branded Scotch labels sell for at retail.

Whyte and Mackay, a 160-year-old distiller, says the new minimum pricing plan would have a major impact on its volume. Distillers are upset because discussions about minimum pricing have focused on supermarket lost-leader sales of beer, cider and flavored malt beverages.

The Scottish government is expected to finalize a proposal during the next few weeks. Distillers are pointing out that Scotch amounts to around 20 percent of the country's exports and a proposal that damages the industry would harm the overall economy.

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