At Sigma-Aldrich I can buy one liter of unadulterated ethanol for just 26.60 EUR. This ethanol contains no additives and is pure enough for analytical purposes. Its made by fermenting grain or sugarcane. The solution contains 95.5% ethanol.
However, when I try to buy the same amount of consumer grade ethanol, then I suddenly have to pay 73.63 EUR because of excise duties. This is strange because the research grade ethanol from Merck is about as pure as the consumer grade one.
In the EU pure ethanol is only exempt from excise duties when it is denatured in some way but the ethanol sold by Merck / Sigma-Aldrich doesn't seem to be denatured in any way. It is not marketed as a biofuel either. Its an ethanol solution that's nearly as pure as the consumer grade ethanol but it somehow is still exempt from excise duties. Why is that?
Apparently the website can show different prices depending on the country you live in. Here's a screenshot of the prices I'm seeing. I live in the Netherlands.
Here's the price at checkout. Some tax is added but I don't think its excise duty related. The total price is still far lower then the price you pay for consumer grade ethanol.