Those Scottish readers living in Scotland and enjoying the bite, burn and budget price of cheap supermarket alcohols will be shocked to learn that their caring government will be making them pay a lot more for their low-cost tippling than those lucky types south of the border.

From next April the Scottish government are imposing a minimum price of 50 pence per unit on all alcoholic drinks sold in Scotland. This means that a budget priced 2-litre bottle of strong cider that contains 10 -15 units of alcohol and sells for around £2.00-£3.00 down here will be £5.00-£7.00 up there. And a bottle of cheap own-brand French brandy that contains 25 units of alcohol and that we pay under £10 for down here will be costing our Scottish fellow drinkers £12.50.

Cruellest of all, a bottle of Sainsbury’s blended Scotch whisky from their Basics range, which contains 28 units of alcohol and costs around £10.50 here will have a minimum price tag of £14 up there, where it is bottled and shipped down. And because of the minimum price requirement Scots will not be able to take advantage of the regular loyalty vouchers handed out by such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco, cuts that can bring the price of the above bottle of Sainsbury’s Scotch – “A little less refined, great for mixing” – down to under £9, or nearly 30% less.

Clearly the minimum 50 pence per unit won’t be affecting the richer drinkers, like Scottish government ministers, who will see no change in the price of their bottles of expensive wines, champagnes or single malts, However the coming differentials have attracted the attention of canny marketeers for Northumberland who are hoping to attract Scots with a booze-cruise mentality to have a break or two south of the border – and Berwick is a strong contender – and fill their cellars.

Though some point out that the distance some Scots will have to travel, and pay for the fuel, will make a dedicated trip unlikely to be worth doing we’d put money on switched-on supermarkets just south of the border running promotions in Scotland offering thirsty Scots £30 – £50 off a case of 12 bottles of own-brand spirits. We’d also put money on some cooperative buying whereby travellers south take cases back for friends and neighbours, and enjoy a pleasant break to boot, which in the writer’s experience was always the best thing about a booze-cruise anyway……….

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