Sunday 18 May 2003

Whisky and Freedom

Some of us are being ripped off:
WHISKY drinkers are being swindled out of £4m a year by licensees who substitute cheap spirits for genuine Scottish malts or blends.
Industry officials are calling for bigger fines for offenders. As readers will no doubt have noticed, I am not one to argue for a large role for the state. Arguably, though, protection against theft and fraud is a legitimate government activity and so I have no real objection to fines for fraudsters. Nevertheless, I couldn't help noticing this:
"The problem is particularly acute in the UK, where the temptation to buy cheap smuggled whisky with no duty charge has been too great for many pub licensees."
And just why is the problem "particularly acute in the UK?" I imagine that it's because duties on whisky are much higher than elsewhere in Europe and thus this kind of trickery is worthwhile. It is ridiculous that I can buy a bottle of malt in Spain or Italy for much less than from a shop next to the distillery here in Scotland. Cut the tax, reduce the crime and help Scottish industry.