Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini said the price of alcohol was “undoubtedly a factor” in Scotland’s problematic relationship with drink.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, she said: "What I see now in many of the cases are both the accused and indeed victims purchasing very substantial quantities of very cheap alcohol.
“It could be a variety of the fruit-flavoured ones as well as strong vodka which is consumed in quantities which quite frankly are fatal, and it is a matter of surprise that the individuals are not just witnesses in a case but that they are actually living to tell the tale.
"That is something which is seen throughout the country. It is a real issue and I think it is a major health issue for young people, but from my own very narrow perspective I think that there is a real apocalypse if we don't actually get to grips with the acceleration of the consumption of alcohol."
Angiolini said that in the 1970s, a litre of vodka was priced at the equivalent of about £45 today.
The Scottish National Party has pledged to make another attempt to introduce minimum pricing if it secures a majority in the May elections. The party currently relies on the support of opposition groups to achieve its legislative programme, and trails Labour in the opinion polls.