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  • Writer's pictureNigel

Minimum Unit Pricing and whiskey

Minimum unit pricing (MUP) kicks in from 4 January 2022 with the aim of improving public health by increasing the cost of cheap alcohol as part of the Public Health Alcohol Act 2018 (the "Act"). There is an element of the "nanny state" about the Act, but there is also significant evidence from other countries that it has had a positive impact on public health. Perhaps an opinion piece for another post, as this post attempts to clarify whether the Act will have an impact on the purchase price of our favourite tipple.

It's not difficult to calculate the minimum price of alcohol under the Act. The Act states that the minimum price of a gram of alcohol is 10c, so we just need to figure out how many grams of alcohol are in a bottle of our favourite tipple. Bottles of whiskey are sold by volume and clearly state the percentage alcohol - so it's easy to calculate the amount of alcohol in a bottle in terms of millilitres (the volume in millilitres multiplied by the ABV). To convert from millilitres of alcohol to grams, we need to multiply by 0.789...and that's it.

Here's an example.

One of my favourite tipples is Redbreast 12 year old. It sells in 700ml bottles at 40% ABV. The minimum price for this bottle is volume x ABV x 0.789 x 10cents = 700 x 0.40 x 0.789 x 10 - 2,209 cents (or just over €22). As a bottle of Redbreast 12 typically sells for just north of €60, the retail price remains unaffected.

Obviously, this calculation holds for any spirit sold in 700ml bottles at 40%. So the cheapest possible whiskey price will be just over €22.

For those interested in cask strength alcohol, let's try an example of a 700ml bottle at 60% ABV. Again, our calculation is 700 x 0.60 x 0.789 x 10 = 3,314 cents (or just over €33). Anyone finding good cask strength whiskey at that price can feel free to contact us!

So the short answer is that the Act is unlikely to increase prices of any whiskey except for those sold below €22, which will now need to be sold at €22.

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