Nearly a year ago, the Chancellor increased excise duty on Scotch Whisky and other spirits by an eye-watering 10.1%. It was the biggest such tax hike in four decades and cemented the UK’s position as the G7 country with the highest level of duty on spirits – not a league table any government should wish to be atop of.

Fast forward almost 11 months, and HMRC data shows that excise duty revenue from spirits is down by more than £100 million since August compared to the same period last year. Not a forecast, not a model, real-world incontrovertible evidence that increasing tax on Scotch has literally resulted in less money that could be spent on public services.

As our new government takes control, this should be a reminder of the need to back business if we’re to see the type of economic growth the country needs.

No other country treats a tentpole industry and world-renowned, premium product in the way the UK treats Scotch Whisky. It’s inconceivable that the French would tax Champagne and put it at a competitive disadvantage to other products. But the UK manages it – nearly three quarters of the cost of a bottle of Scotch is claimed by the taxman. If you order a dram in an Edinburgh pub, you will be paying more than double the excise duty you would be on the same dram in a Parisian bar. And per unit of alcohol, you’ll pay four times more in tax than on a pint of cider.

Scotch is the UK’s number one food and drink export (Image: free)

The discrimination against spirits including Scotch Whisky is clear to see, and the situation must change. The new government should be bringing the UK’s duty on Scotch and other spirits closer to the European average over the course of the next parliament. Doing so can deliver much needed growth, create jobs, boost investment and support hospitality. And it would show that the incoming government in Westminster cared about Scotland and its economic success – 70% of UK spirits production lies north of the border.

It's disappointing we’re not already backing an important sector. Scotch Whisky alone generates more than £7 billion a year for the economy and is the UK’s number one food and drink export. Distilleries are Scotland’s number one tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors who spend money in surrounding communities. Over 40 bottles of Scotland’s national drink are exported every second to countries around the world – and the demand for Scotch has opened the door for other products to grow in international markets.

And, as part of the wider spirits industry, Scotch helps generate a third of all alcohol sales in pubs, restaurants and bars. That’s despite being locked out of the government’s so-called ‘Brexit pubs guarantee’ that cuts duty on cider and beer sold in hospitality businesses and ignores the importance of spirits to a publican’s revenue, or the millions of consumers whose drink of choice is a dram or cocktail rather than a pint.

The path to growth is not through increasing the tax burden on the producers of world-class products such as Scotch Whisky. It is through providing support, stability and enabling further investment that benefits hospitality businesses and local communities, and advances our national sustainability goals such as net zero emissions.

HMRC’s own figures show that raising what is already one of the highest levels of excise duty in the world doesn’t work. The numbers don’t lie – we have missed out on revenue that could be used for our public services. The next government must learn this lesson and understand that increasing tax on the likes of Scotch Whisky is not a path for success.

Get that right and use the next parliament to bring spirits duty closer to the European average, and we will see growth and more money from business going into the Exchequer. Not because they’re taxed to the hilt, but because they’ve been given more opportunity to succeed.

That is the cocktail for success.

Mark Kent, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association