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A higher rate of tax on ‘stronger’ drinks as proposed in the latest budget has been slammed by Scotch whisky distillers.

Thirty Scotch whisky distilleries have written to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to warn that the proposals fail to deliver the Conservative government’s commitment to support the sector.

“The Treasury says it wants a higher rate of tax on ‘stronger drinks,” the letter notes. “But while there’s more alcohol in a pint of beer or cider than in a Scotch and soda or a G&T, spirits drinkers will pay more tax.

“Beer and cider drinkers will stand beside people in a pub enjoying a spirits-based cocktail – with spirits paying a premium on drinks which contain less alcohol.”

The Scotch Whisky Association, which supports the distillers, added: “How we tax alcohol in the UK is outdated and the Scotch Whisky industry has long called for reform. But the changes set out by the Chancellor in the Budget don’t deliver the common sense approach he promised.

“Nor do they meet the government’s commitment of backing a vital industry in Scotch whisky and the jobs it supports.

“The Chancellor should look again at these reforms which do not deliver fairness for the Scotch Whisky industry.”