The UK Budget has met with mixed reaction today (22 March) after Chancellor Gordon Brown froze duty on spirits and sparkling wine but raised taxes on wine and beer.

The Chancellor announced that the duty on beer would rise by 1p in line with inflation but hit wine with a 4p (US$0.07) hike.

The UK's Wine & Spirit Trade Association said it was "delighted" with the freeze on spirits duty but condemned the move on wine.

"We are very disappointed that there will be a further duty increase of 4p on a bottle of wine at a time when there are strong indications that the rate of wine market growth is slowing," said WSTA chief executive Jeremy Beadles.

"The impact of the increase will be exacerbated as the Trade will have only four days to implement the change."

However, The Scotch Whisky Association said the Chancellor would be praised by the country's distillers for "taking another welcome step towards delivering a fairer alcohol duty regime in the UK".

SWA chief executive Gavin Hewitt said: "A fairer alcohol duty regime helps support a key British industry in its home market and sends a message of tax fairness overseas, as distillers look to develop new opportunities in emerging markets such as China and India."