Tag Archives: Ireland

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Not just education

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European Court of Justice said Scotland’s plan to impose a blanket minimum price for alcohol goes against EU free-trade laws, as it would restrict the market. More than that, I have to add it is against free-will, and the principles of individual’s freedom.

The Irish version of such non-sense measure might luckily go to the same hole. Supported by Gardaí and the medical professionals, Minister of Health Leo Varadkar really believes that the day after passing the Bill, people will just stop binging and miraculously start drinking sensibly!

The Bill claims to target health measures, as health labelling and marketing regulation, which could be classified as educational measures, but minimum unit pricing is just a selective attempt to restrict who can and who cannot buy the so called cheap alcohol.

Promoting under-cost alcohol and pushing small retailers out of the market

Instead of imposing higher prices to everyone, the government would be doing a bigger favour by tackling those big retailers who sell alcohol – and other goods – at prices even lower than the excise duty. Such practices, which surely attract people into the stores, should not be seen as sales, but more as dumping of goods, as they are. Following the Minister’s logic, they are the real problem of cheap alcohol.

There are strict anti-dumping rules in Ireland for importing goods. The government really should start looking to the domestic market, and try to find the thin line separating sales strategy and dumping of goods.


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Why education is not an option?

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booze

The debate about minimum price for alcohol in Ireland might be dormant, but is far from its end. As soon as the government pushes it through people’s throat, it will bring reactions, and probably consequences. Before any debate, as per European laws, the government must prove that the move is a better option than merely increasing tax on alcohol. This alone, to me, is a hard sell.

It has been tried before. If we recall The Prohibition in the United States, a nationwide constitutional ban on the sale, production, importation, and transportation of alcoholic beverages? From 1920 to 1933, all it did was to boost organized crime, where a profitable, often violent, black market for alcohol flourished.

Keeping the proportion, it might be the same in Ireland, where high prices might well lure criminal elements into the market. There has been a rising trend in counterfeit alcohol in recent years, whereby law-breakers put cheaper drinks into branded bottles – even fine wines – or use potentially dangerous illegally produced beverage. It tends to rise!

It’s just not fair on the “non-problematic” drinkers to pay more for alcohol known to be cheap – and obviously poor in quality.

Irish taxes on alcohol are already among the highest in the world, which has been leading people into cross-border shopping and alcohol cruises to France. Even the government says the additional money will not be passed on to the Revenue, doesn’t make it right. Actually make it even worse, as it will simply hand big sellers of alcohol fatter margins – and probably push small merchants out of the market. It will not generate any funding for alcohol-related problems, as if they cared about it.

To tackle the problem, the government instead should come with something more noble, as educating people, offering quality help for those suffering from alcohol-related health problems. Those who campaign for minimum pricing don’t take addiction in consideration. I don’t think they even understand addiction. Addicts are capable of reducing children’s milk, or commit minor crimes, in order to top-up for booze.

The world is not perfect, we all know, but populist measures will bring no benefit in medium or long term, and the real problem will still be out there, calling for real actions.


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Be Aware of Wine Prices in Dublin’s Supermarkets

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I don’t buy my wines in supermarkets anymore, nor in off-licenses, nor in wine shops… It’s been some time already that I only buy my wines online, from off-shore shops around Europe, wherever I can get a good deal in the shipment. This does not prevent me from being a market observer, and I’m constantly out there checking wine prices, and you don’t have to be a sophisticated wine shopper to notice that wine prices tend to zigzag up and down like youngers making their way back home from a good craic. And then, we end up buying the nearest bottle that is on offer…
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Supermarkets understand this, and most of the wine sold in Ireland is sold on some sort of offer, just for the use of the words “sales”, “half price”, “offer”, etc. Some people are triggered by those words, but in reality they’re telling us that we don’t have a clue on how much they are actually worth!Recently I’ve checked prices mostly in SuperQuinn, because is my local store, and to take an example, El Circulo, a red crianza Spanish Rioja, was retailed at €20, normal price, but was on sales for €10 the most of the year, but now SQ its normal price is €21,99! Other example is Farnese Lava Greco Di Tufo, a white Italian now retailed at €16.49 (on sale for €13,00), but I well remember not long ago its full price was €13,99, on sales for €7!

This is clearly not a SuperQuinn’s phenomenon… Neither a Dublin’s one! I checked Tesco’s half-price offers online for the week (hurry up… it ends today!!) and they include a “Special Offer” were you save €11.29 (!) when buying Oceans Edge Pinot Grigio, which allegedly was €19.29 but now is only €8.00! Guess what? The actual price was €9.99 for the most of this year, with some offers on €8, but now they want you to believe it’s a super special sale! If you pay €19.29 for it and then find that out later, would you feel like you’ve been conned?


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Tasting IWS Single Cask Single Pot Still 17yo

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The Whiskey:
Back in April, Irish Distillers Ltd. invited the Irish Whiskey Society (IWS) to a trip around the Fox and Geese Bottling facility and followed this up an evening in the Old Jameson Distillery in Bow Street, Dublin. There they were given the opportunity to sample 3 different casks, 2 aged for 15 years and one aged for 17 years…. those present then voted to select their favourite and by a margin of 2 to 1, Cask number 1038 was deemed the winner, the 17 year old cask.

This cask was then purchased by the IWS and was offered exclusively to their members as the first exclusive bottling from the Irish Whiskey Society. The whiskey was bottled at Cask Strength so it will be supplied at 55.2%. This is extremely limited in supply (204 bottles only) and is no doubt one to savour over a long period of time and offer only a small sample to the closest of friends!

On the eye:
Very clear, nice golden colour.

On the nose:
It’s clean and pronounced, with aromas of caramel, banana, ripe black fruit, vanilla and coconut milk.

On the mouth:
An explosion of flavours: floral, fruity, creamy. Long finishing, with a hint of spices and herbs. The water softened the alcohol on the nose and the spicy of the palate.. Outstanding!


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