Scotland's ruling National Party is expected to make an announcement on minimum pricing for alcohol early in the New Year, sources have told just-drinks.

A drinks industry source close to the situation said that the Scottish Executive is expected to follow through on its proposal to implement a minimum price per unit of alcohol.

Ministers have not made a final decision, just-drinks understands, but the industry anticipates an announcement in early 2009.

A base price for drinks is still under serious consideration in Scotland, despite UK home secretary Jacqui Smith announcing this week that minimum pricing would not be introduced in England during the economic downturn. Scotland has the power to set its own policy.

Minimum pricing is one of several options outlined by the Scottish National Party in its strategy to tackle excess drinking and alcohol-related crime.

An approximate rate of 35p per unit of alcohol is one price point believed to be under consideration. That would give a bottle of wine at 13.5% abv a minimum price of around GBP3.50 (US$5.2).

Consumers would likely be able to avoid minimum pricing by purchasing alcohol south of the border, in England, however.