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Spirit Drinks

Here you can find the legislation and guidance for spirit drinks in the following areas:

EU legislation

Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 (OJ L 39, p16, 13.02.2008) of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2008 on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 1576/89.

Amended by 

  • Regulation (EC) No 1334/2008 (OJ L 354, p34, 31.12.2008) of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on flavourings and certain food ingredients with flavouring properties for use in and on foods and amending Council Regulation (EEC) No 1601/91, Regulations (EC) No 2232/96 and (EC) No 110/2008 and Directive 2000/13/EC. In force: This act has been changed. Current consolidated version: 24/11/2021
  • Commission Regulation (EU) No 164/2012 (OJ L 53, p1, 25/02/2012) of 24 February 2012 amending Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 110/2008. No longer in force: This act has been changed. Current consolidated version: 12/12/2012
  • Commission Regulation (EU) No 1065/2013 (OJ L 289, p48, 31/10/2013), of 30 October 2013 amending Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks. no longer in force, Date of end of validity: 24/05/2021; Implicitly repealed by 32019R0787
  • Commission Regulation (EU) No 97/2014 (OJ L 33, p1, 04/02/2014) of 3 February 2014 amending Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks - no longer in force, Date of end of validity: 24/05/2021; Implicitly repealed by Regulation (EU) 2019/787 
  • Commission Regulation (EU) No 98/2014 (OJ L 33, p3, 04/02/2014) of 3 February 2014 amending Annexes II and III to Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks. no longer in force, Date of end of validity: 24/05/2021; Implicitly repealed by 32019R0787
  • Commission Regulation (EU) No 426/2014 (OJ L 125, 26/04/2014, p 55) of 25 April 2014 amending Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks - no longer in force, Date of end of validity: 24/05/2021; Implicitly repealed by 32019R0787
  • Commission Regulation (EU) 2015/210 (OJ L 35, 11/20/2015, p 16) of 10 February 2015 amending Annexes II and III to Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks - no longer in force, Date of end of validity: 24/05/2021; Implicitly repealed by 32019R0787
  • Commission Regulation (EU) 2016/235 (OJ L 44, 19/02/2016, p 7) of 18 February 2016 amending Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks. no longer in forceDate of end of validity: 24/05/2021; Implicitly repealed by 32019R0787
  • Commission Regulation (EU) 2016/1067 (OJ L 178, 20/07/2016, p 1) of 1 July 2016 amending Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks. no longer in force, Date of end of validity: 24/05/2021; Implicitly repealed by 32019R0787
  • Commission Regulation (EU) 2018/175 (OJ L 32, p48, 06/02/2018) of 2 February 2018 amending Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks. no longer in forceDate of end of validity: 24/05/2021; Implicitly repealed by 32019R0787
  • Commission Regulation (EU) 2018/1098 (OJ L 197, p7, 03/08/2018) of 2 August 2018 amending and correcting Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks. no longer in force, Date of end of validity: 24/05/2021; Implicitly repealed by 32019R0787
  • Consolidated version of Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 as 23rd August 2018

Implemented by

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 716/2013 (OJ L 201, p21, 26/07/2013) of 25 July 2013 laying down rules for the application of Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the definition, presentation, labelling and the protection of the geographical indications of spirit drinks

Amended by

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1239/2014 (OJ L 333, p5, 20/11/2014) of 19 November 2014 amending Regulation (EU) No 716/2013

Commission Regulation (EC) No 936/2009 (OJ L 264, p5, 08/10/2009) of 7 October 2009 applying the agreements between the European Union and third countries on the mutual recognition of certain spirit drinks

Note: You must also take into account the labelling and food information requirements set out in the legislation on the provision of food information to consumers (Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011)  

Methods of analysis

Commission Regulation (EEC) No 2009/92 (OJ L 203, p10, 21/07/1992) of 20 July 1992 determining Community analysis methods for ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin used in the preparation of spirit drinks, aromatized wines, aromatized wine- based drinks and aromatized wine-product cocktails

Commission Regulation (EC) No 2870/2000 (OJ L 333, p20, 29/12/2000) of 19 December 2000 laying down Community reference methods for the analysis of spirits drinks

Amended by

Commission Regulation (EC) No 2091/2002 (OJ L 322, p11, 27/11/2002) of 26 November 2002

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/635 (OJ L 108, 23/04/2016), p 1) of 22 April 2016

Commission Recommendation (EU) 2016/22 (OJ L 6, 9.01.2016, p 8) of 7 January 2016 on the prevention and reduction of ethyl carbamate contamination in stone fruit spirits and stone fruit marc spirits, repealing Recommendation 2010/133/EU

National legislation

Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 lays down rules on the definition, description, presentation and labelling of spirit drinks as well as on the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks. It applies to all spirit drinks placed on the market in the European Union (EU) whether produced in the EU or in third countries, as well as to those produced in the EU for export. The Regulation also regulates the use of ethyl alcohol and/or distillates of agricultural origin in the production of alcoholic beverages and to the use of the names of spirit drinks in the presentation and labelling of foodstuffs.

Spirit drinks must have a minimum alcoholic strength of 15 % vol. Spirit drinks are classified into categories according to the definitions laid down in Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 110/2008, e.g., rum, whiskey/whisky, brandy, vodka.

Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 also sets out specific rules -

  • concerning sales denominations
  • concerning the use of sales denominations and geographical indications
  • concerning the description, presentation and labelling of spirit drinks

Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 takes precedence over the qualified standards laid down previously by Section 6 of the Sale of Foods and Drugs (Amendment) Act, 1879 and the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1960.

The Irish Whiskey Act, 1980 defines Irish whiskey and regulates certain descriptions used in relation to Irish whiskey

Geographical indications

The geographical indication identifies a spirit drink as originating in the territory of a country, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of that spirit drink is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.

In Ireland, Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream and Irish Poteen are protected European Geographical Indications and have technical files associated with them setting out the technical specifications for their production. These products are subject to official verification and control.

Access the technical files for Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream and Irish Poteen