Figures from HMRC (HM Revenue and Customers) figures show 36.7 million bottles were released for sale in the first six months of 2017: which is down from 37.7 million in the same period last year.
“The 2.6% fall follows the Chancellor's decision to increase spirits duty in the spring Budget by an inflation-busting 3.9%, meaning tax now makes up an astonishing 80% of the cost of a bottle of Scotch,” says the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), the trade body for the industry. “Of an average bottle sold at £12.77, more than £10 goes straight to the Treasury.”
The SWA has launched a ‘Drop the Dram Duty’ campaign ahead of the November Budget.
"Cutting tax would send a strong signal that the Government believes in a world-famous UK manufacturing industry which supports 40,000 jobs and plays a key role in Scotland's economy," says the SWA.
It adds that the tax taken from spirits has actually fallen since the tax increase: spirits revenue was down more than 7% in the first financial quarter of 2017/18 to £697 million, from £751m in the same period from April to the end of June the previous year.
In contrast, a 2% cut in duty in 2015 saw spirits revenue rise by 4%.