Alcopop fear divides the drinks world

Spirits manufacturers, fearful of a backlash against alcopops, want them to be considered separately to their own pre-mixed spirits drinks in next month’s Budget, a move which signalled growing divisions in the drinks industry.

Manufacturers which sell drinks based on premium-branded spirits such as gin, vodka, whisky and bourbon are nervous, because their products are classed in the same category as alcopops for taxation purposes.

They claim their drinks are unarguably aimed at adults, because of taste, packaging and marketing, and that they are unfairly suffering by association.

One spirits manufacturer says: “There should be a distinction between alcopops and premium packaged spirits. They are trying to behave in a very different way.”

At the moment, all flavoured alcoholic beverages are classified in the “made wine” category, a catch-all sector for drinks not encompassed in the clearly defined beer, spirits, cider and wine sectors.

There are fears that Chancellor Gordon Brown will impose tax hikes of up to 50p a bottle on the made wine category such as coolers in the Budget on July 2, to deter under-age drinkers from buying alcopops.

Another spirits manufacturer adds: “A normal development market could be stifled simply be cause alcopops have generated a reputation for rather irresponsible marketing.”

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