It is, we are told, a "reasonable balance" between the benefits and drawbacks of more expensive alcohol but the only real certainty is that Scottish consumers will shoulder the lion's share of the financial burden from the proposed 30% surge in minimum unit pricing (MUP).

On Thursday Deputy First Minister Shona Robison stepped in at the last minute for former Health Secretary Michael Matheson to confirm that, subject to approval by MSPs, Scotland's MUP will increase from 50p to 65p from September 30. The aim is to double down on efforts to tackle deaths and hospital admissions from alcohol misuse.

Following a raft of legal challenges that were ultimately defeated, in 2018 Scotland became the first country in the world to ban retailers from selling alcohol at less than 50p per unit. A sunset clause on the legislation means the current regulations will expire at the end of April, and comes amid conflicting views on how effective this policy has been in improving public health.

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

If the increase goes ahead, it means that 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.

"Research commended by internationally-renowned public health experts estimated that our world-leading minimum unit pricing policy has saved hundreds of lives, likely averted hundreds of alcohol-attributable hospital admissions and contributed to reducing health inequalities," Ms Robison told the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

"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."

It is important to remember that this is not a tax, but rather the Scottish Government setting a baseline minimum across the market. Higher prices on the shelves in this country will flow directly back to the producers, presumably offsetting the financial impact of any decline in sales volumes.

READ MORE: Explained in five: Minimum Unit Pricing

And for most drinks producers, Scotland represents a tiny fraction of overall revenues. The vast majority of whisky, for example, which is made in this country is sold elsewhere throughout the world and therefore unaffected by MUP.

Within Scotland, the knock-on effects of minimum pricing must also be taken into account as producers will seek to maintain the gap between cheaper beverages and more expensive brands to preserve their premium status.

A small proportion of people in Scotland drink to dangerous excess, and likewise there are some who rarely if ever imbibe. For the latter, an inflation-busting increase in alcohol prices will be of no consequence.

But the majority in the middle are set to soak up another surge in prices that will be difficult to swallow in the wake of rampant rises in the cost of everything from energy and fuel to food and clothing, leaving something of a bitter aftertaste even as other pressures subside.