THE Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has launched a legal challenge against the Scottish Government’s minimum pricing proposals for alcohol.
Legal argument began this week at the Court of Session in Edinburgh after the SWA and European wine firms launched the move.
They argue that a law passed by the Scottish parliament last year on minimum pricing breaches EU trade rules.
The Scottish government has said the minimum price would initially be set at 50p per unit, meaning the cheapest bottle of wine would be £4.69 and a four-pack of lager would cost at least £3.52.
The bill received royal assent on June 29 last year but Scottish ministers have undertaken not to introduce the measures until after the Court of Session has made its ruling.
The court move comes a week after it was revealed that Scotch whisky is worth more than £4 billion to the Scottish economy and the industry has reached record levels of productivity.
The research, "Scotch Whisky & Scotland’s Economy - A 100 Year Blend", was commissioned by the SWA to mark it centenary.
The total impact of Scotch Whisky on Scotland’s economy is £4.2 billion - £2.9 billion from the industry itself and £1.3 billion through the industry’s supply chain.
It supports around 36,000 jobs in the industry and across the supply chain in Scotland.
The research found that Scotch Whisky underpins the expansion of Scotland’s total international export markets, accounting for 55% of the growth since 2002.
A further investment of £2 billion in Scotland in the next few years has been
committed by Scotch Whisky producers.
That includes expansion plans in Moray by both Diageo and Chivas, two of the main whisky firms. Over half of Scotland’s distilleries are based in Speyside.
Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "This new research is further evidence of the key role Scotch Whisky plays in the Scottish
economy. The demand for Scotch Whisky is coming increasingly from the world’s fastest growing markets."