The minimum unit price (MUP) for alcohol in Scotland will rise to 65p from 50p later this year, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

Deputy First Minister Shona Robison told MSPs that while she was aware of concerns from some industry groups, there had not been any “significant impact” on business since the introduction of the policy in 2018. 

That means a 700ml bottle of Scotch whisky will now cost a minimum of £18.20, while a bottle of vodka or gin will have a minimum price of £17.07.

A pack of four 440ml cans of cider will cost at least £5.15, while a four pack of beer will cost at least £5.72.

The statement to parliament was initially due to be delivered by Michael Matheson, but it was Deputy First Minister Shona Robison who updated parliament following the shock resignation of Michael Matheson over his £11,000 data roaming bill. 

READ MORE: Alcohol prices set to jump with 30 per cent minimum unit hike likely

Ms Robison said research by internationally-renowned public health experts estimated that MUP had "saved hundreds of lives, likely averted hundreds of alcohol-attributable hospital admissions and contributed to reducing health inequalities."

She added: “Despite this progress, deaths caused specifically by alcohol rose last year – and my sympathy goes out to all those who have lost a loved one.

“We believe the proposals, which are supported by Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, strike a reasonable balance between public health benefits and any effects on the alcoholic drinks market and impact on consumers.

"Evidence suggests there has not been a significant impact on business and industry as a whole.

“Alongside MUP, we will continue to invest in treatment and a wide range of other measures, including funding for Alcohol and Drug Partnerships which rose to £112 million in 2023-24.”

Last year, a report by Public Health Scotland said MUP had prevented hundreds of deaths and hospital admissions, however, it said there was "limited evidence" that it reduced consumption among the heaviest drinkers.

While the number of alcohol-specific deaths in Scotland rose from 1,120 in 2017 - the year before MUP - to a 13-year high of 1,245 in 2021, the most recent year for which data is available.

However, the research said that the picture in Scotland would have been even worse without MUP.

Scottish Conservative shadow cabinet secretary for health and social care Dr Sandesh Gulhane questioned the research and suggested Ms Robison did not understand the statistics. 

"Let's start with alcohol related deaths, they're at a 14 year high in Scotland and even a novice statistician would tell you hospitalisation data was not statistically significant. 

"There are 40 studies in the evaluation of MUP and only one claimed a reduction in deaths.

"Saying MUP has reduced deaths is not accurate, as it was an estimate based on statistical modelling and if compared to Northern Ireland, and not England would have shown MUP caused deaths.

"The number of people seeking help for alcohol reduced by 40% along with referrals to alcohol treatment.

"The purpose of a policy such as MUP should surely have been to reduce consumption of alcohol by those who are dependent drinkers, and Public Health Scotland's own data shows those with alcohol dependence are foregoing food.

"MUP is not the magic bullet that the Scottish Government are continuing to laud. 

"So if MUP was not designed to help those with alcohol dependence, what has the Scottish Government done to mitigate the harms that were obviously going to happen to them over the last five years?

"And what is the Scottish Government's policy for dependent drinkers that you have clearly abandoned?"

READ MOREMinimum alcohol pricing: Charity leader calls for probe

The Deputy First Minister referenced a clash between Dr Gulhane and Justina Murray, the Chief Executive of Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs in Holyrood earlier this week.

Quoting the charity chief, Ms Robison said: "I think you're possibly the only person in the room who doesn't believe the evidence.

"You know, we've lost over 11,000 people specifically to alcohol over the past decade, families really don't understand why this is still being debated."

She added: "In relation to alcohol specific deaths, for the evaluation, the question is not whether deaths went up or down, it's whether deaths changed compared to what would have happened if MUP had not been in place.

"And it's likely that without MUP, tragically, we would have experienced an even greater number of alcohol specific deaths."

The minister then referenced the Lancet which said, "policymakers can be confident that there are several hundred people with low incomes in Scotland who would have died as a result of alcohol, who are alive today as a result of Minimum Unit Pricing.

"I know who I listen to, and that's the public health experts. And I think we'll leave Sandesh Gulhane to talk for himself."

If backed by MSPs, the move to 65p will take place on September 30.