Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Big Booze Ripoff

We all know the stereotype:  "The Irish are big drinkers and whiskey flows out of every tap."  Or how about, "Irish folks are always drinking Guinness in the pub?"  Ever heard that before?  Let's face it, Ireland has a reputation for its alcohol consumption.  Even my co-workers joke about the national problem.  In order to combat this stereotype, the Irish government is discussing legislation to set a minimum price for alcohol to discourage consumption.

What most people don't know is that alcohol in Ireland is really expensive!  I remember going to the Centra (like a 7-11) convenience store my first week here and finding the $3.00 bottom-shelf California grocery store wines like Barefoot and Gallo going for 8 or 9 euro here.  Ireland taxes alcohol so heavily because it is guaranteed revenue.  People are going to drink, no matter what.

In any case, I was really taken aback when I tried to buy a bottle of Irish whiskey here in Ireland.  I thought for sure it would be cheaper than America, since they didn't have to ship it.  Little did I know how much alcohol is taxed here.  Leaving aside the V.A.T. which is now 23%--you still pay a tax on alcohol which is added to the product.  Yes Virginia, that's double taxation.  The tax on stuff like whiskey and gin works out to €39.25 per litre of alcohol in the spirits.

Consider this:  A 700 ml bottle of Bushmills is 40% alcohol.  .7 * .4 * 39.25 =  10.99 euro added to the cost of the bottle.

So, just to show you that alcohol is not free or flowing like water in Ireland, check out my price comparison below.  I was in California this month, and took all these photos within a week of each other.  The California prices are from a Rite-Aid pharmacy, the Irish prices are from a Superquinn market.

 Jamesons whiskey in California costs $18.99.  In Ireland it costs €24.39.  If the exchange rate is 1.30 USD per Euro, then the Irish bottle costs $31.70.

Bombay Sapphire gin in America costs $16.99 and €23.99 in Ireland.  Bushmills whiskey costs $14.99 in America and €24.39 in Ireland.

By the way, I need to mention something about bottle sizes here.  Guess what kids?  The bottles are different between Ireland and America:

In Ireland the bottles are only 700 ml so not only are they charging more but they are giving you less.  It reminds me of how coffee cans have been shrinking over the years.  It used to be that you got a pound of coffee in a can, then they dumbed it down to 14.5 ounces, then 13, then 12... but they left the can the same size.

Thus, a 750 ml bottle of booze like Jagermeister in America will run you $13.99 and a 700 ml bottle of the same is €22.35 in Ireland.  Mein Gott!

So you may be wondering what I did?  Heh heh, I brought back a BIG bottle of Sailor Jerry's.  That's my poison.  It only cost me 22 bucks for an enormous 1.75 litre bottle, (and in Euro that would be €16.74).  Wait... what's that I hear?  A message from the Captain?

Attention Relatives.  Now hear this.  If you are visiting me in Ireland, bring me rum.  That is all.


  1. Okeedokey. Those prices are truly depressing.

  2. Hahahaa :D All of the sudden, I feel happy to live in least the alcohol is cheap :)
    But your dream was to live in Ireland, or was it something else? I'm curious :)

  3. And yet these very steep prices don't put us off going out and getting hammered! A pint of Guinness costs 6.50 euros. Guinness is made in Dublin!!! How ridiculous is that????

  4. Yep, I agree, those prices are steep!