It's all for our own good of course as they keep banging on about in those awful Keith Haring-esque animated propaganda ads; we're all naughty boozers killing ourselves and costing the NHS a fortune. But I fail to see why ending the three for a tenner wine offers in Tesco is going to stop the arseholes getting shitfaced on jaegerbombs and lambrini in every town centre in the land as I can bet your average town centre aircraft hanger sized theme pub will be charging a shitload more than 45p a unit.
No, this is an attack on, well, me to be honest, your middle age hacked off working guy who likes a drink or three in the comfort of his own home when he gets in from the office or factory. We're the problem you see, drinking ourselves into an early grave and if we're not being wage slaves we're a drain on the state; quite ignoring the fact that the duty I've paid on booze over the years could probably equip a medium sized intensive care unit.
By my back-of-a-beer-mat calculations your average 11 unit bottle of wine will have a minimum price of just shy of a fiver and to be honest if you're paying less than a fiver now for wine in the UK you're likely drinking shite. But given you can at the moment get bulk buys of a 6 or 7 quid bottle for 3.50 or so then kiss those kinds of deals goodbye. And remember this is just the introductory rate. You know that above inflation rises will follow on swift wings and that bottle of cheap but cheerful midweek Barolo that makes your pizza slip down a treat will start setting you back eight, nine, ten quid in a couple of years.
If you're a gin and tonic fan it's worse. You get punted right in the bollocks from the get-go. A bit of googling shows me you can get a litre of Sainsbury's Taste the Difference export strength (43%) gin goes for 14.49 a litre, it's got 43 units in it so under the new puritans that's going to cost you 19.35. Ouch. You might as well buy Tanqueray No. 10 and be done with it.
Well I for one am not going to play. You're not going to get a single red cent in duty from me because I'm going to make my own. To be honest as part of my downsizing and off-grid plans I was going to start making most of my own wine anyway but this has just sped things up. The equipment is cheap as chips, about 35 quid and the better kits cost around the same for 30 to 36 bottles. Two batches and your kit is paid for.
Sure you're not going to knock out an '07 Malbec in your attic but from all the reviews I've read these kits have come on a long way from the crap you got in the 80's and with a little aging stand up well to stuff you'd pay 6 to 8 quid for. And the best thing, not a single penny in duty to the government. As for the good stuff, well an annual trip to France and pleasant week trundling round Gascony gets that sorted.
OK so what if you like a G&T. Ah well they have kind of got you there. You see whereas right now it's perfectly legit to brew your own beer and wine you can't distill any kind of spirit without a licence from HMRC, not even for your own use and not even if you're trying to make ethanol for fuel from your home grown spuds.. There's no health reason for this, they are not trying to stop Mr Average brewing up a batch of what he thinks is vodka but turns him and his neighbors blind because he cocked up the distillation, this is purely a revenue raising scam.
OK so I'll apply for a licence. Ah no, no you won't Little Dragon. Because HMRC have rather kindly put together "Notice 39" which tells you everything to know about getting a licence to make your own hooch and you aren't getting one because...
2.3 Can you refuse or revoke a licence?That's a minimum still size of 18000 liters, the size of a medium sized road oil tanker.
We may refuse to issue a licence, or revoke an existing licence, where:
the largest still to be used has a capacity below 18 hectoliters
However just like there's nothing that says you can't own, say, a bong and a packet of hemp seeds there's equally nothing that says you can't own a still. You can and what's more you can buy them online for around 100 quid for a simple one or 350 for something a bit more flash. The days of miles of bent copper tubing and fretting about fusil oils are long gone as these things are semi automated and judging by the demo videos a piece of piddle to operate. You could be knocking your own, admittedly illegal, gin out for a couple of quid a litre in no time.
Now am I going to get into home distilling, Well no, I really don't drink enough spirits to make it economically viable and when I do have a drop of the hard stuff it tends to be of the more expensive range and only available directly from the distillery or more specialist retailers.. However if you're a bit of a gin hound or a bit of a chancer on some estate with a ready market I could see it being more attractive.
But as for wine there's no excuse. Starve the beast and stick up a hearty English two fingers at the puritans. I'll let you know how I get on. Mine's a large one.