Page last updated: July 9, 2013
A call for new duty band in the UK for lower alcohol products

Neil McGuigan, CEO of Australian Vintage, has called on the UK government to encourage responsible drinking with the creation of an alcohol tax band between 9% and 12% abv.

Highlighting the absence of any difference in alcohol duty between 5.5% abv and 15% abv, McGuigan argued that a shift towards lower alcohol wine consumption would be encouraged by the introduction of an intermediate band without posing such a challenge to quality.

Against the backdrop of recent 5.5% abv wine launches such as Blossom Hill Vie, Gallo Summer White and his company’s own offering Vinni, McGuigan noted: “A lot of people have jumped on the opportunity and gone into the laboratory.” However, he maintained: “If you take it from 13.5% to 5.5% you’ll rip the guts out of the wine,” suggesting instead: “Have a tax break between 9% and 12% – we can make lovely wine there.”

In an effort to build support for such a move, not just in the UK market, McGuigan is currently holding discussions with industry bodies including the Wine & Spirit Trade Association and the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia. “We’ve got to show leadership here; prohibition doesn’t work,” he remarked.

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