Spirits prices look set to soar by 43p per litre following the announcement that strip stamps would be mandatory on bottles from 2006.
The Chancellor’s decision comes 18 months after the government dismissed the anti-fraud measure, which is designed to prove duty has been paid.
The industry has slammed the move as “unworkable” and warned that, in addition to the £25m it will need to set up the system, protecting the stamps - worth around £6 each - would also mean costly security.
Quentin Rappoport, Wine and Spirit Association director, said: “It is a devastating blow to a highly efficient UK industry and an example of the worst kind of policymaking. We have worked hard to prove that this measure isn’t effective but the government has not listened.
“Countries across the world have tried to impose such a system, quickly found it is useless, and abandoned it. What does Gordon Brown know that they don’t?”