Whisky sector toasts duty cut
A 2% cut in the excise duty on spirits announced in the Budget has been hailed as "historic" by the industry.
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) had campaigned for the move, arguing that the industry was being held back by "onerous" levels of tax.
It recently released figures showing the UK market for Scotch whisky contracted by almost 5% last year.
SWA said the duty burden on a 70cl bottle of Scotch at the average price of £12.90 would now be reduced by 16p from £7.90 to £7.74.
The total tax burden, including VAT, now stands at £9.89, or 77% of the average price of a bottle of Scotch, down from 78%.
Chief executive David Frost said: "This is a historic decision and only the fourth time whisky duty has been cut in a century.
"The Chancellor's announcement will be toasted across the whisky industry and by consumers who are getting a fairer deal on tax when they have a drink of Scotch.
"The move is a major boost to our industry as we look to grow again in the UK, and equally sends out an important signal on fair taxation to our export markets."
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson s aid: "This is a significant announcement for the whisky industry in Scotland and will be a great boost to jobs and investment in the drinks sector.
"I've been campaigning for over a year to reduce the tax on one of Scotland's most famous exports and I'm pleased to see the industry recognised in this way today.
"Last year a similar tax break worked well on beer, but this goes even further and will bring about significant benefits to a thriving Scottish drinks industry.
"I welcome this historic milestone and look forward to raising a glass this evening - probably a nice Highland Park - to increased economic opportunity, both at home and abroad."
Andrew Cowan, managing director of Diageo Great Britain, said: "Thousands of people across the nation will this evening raise a happy toast to the Chancellor.
"The alcohol industry generates billions for the economy and flies the flag for the UK abroad. This cut will mean that a 400-year historic industry like Scotch whisky will remain a crucial, and vibrant, part of the British economy for many more years to come."