The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has called on the UK government to rethink its plans to increase duty on spirits, while sharing figures that demonstrate the importance of spirits to the overall growth of the drinks industry. 

As of August 2023, duty on spirits is set to rise by 10.1%, the trade group said. The SWA has strongly contested this increase, and has raised concerns that the new system could hinder the growth of not just the spirits industry, but the drinks trade as a whole.

HMRC figures show that spirits revenue from excise duty grew to £4.12bn in 2022/23 – up 40% since 2013/14. Spirits now account for 33% of all alcohol revenue, up from 29% in 2013/14, the SWA said.

SWA chief executive Mark Kent said that previous freezes to alcohol duty have “driven government revenue, and the spirits category has driven this growth as the increasing choice of the modern consumer”.

He continued: “Growing revenue by 40% over a decade when fewer units of alcohol have been consumed [compared to beer and cider] is an impressive return on the government’s investment in the industry through previous duty freezes.”

With an emphasis on the financial benefits of supporting the spirits industry, the SWA is asking the government to uphold the pledge made in 2019 to “ensure the tax system is supporting Scottish whisky” and other spirits. 

“The industry wants the commitment the government made to distillers to be honoured. These figures should be a wake up call for the chancellor to cancel the retrograde tax hike and once again support Scotch,” said Kent.