Labelling spirit drinks in the United Kingdom is a crucial aspect of ensuring consumer safety, compliance with regulations, and transparent communication of information about the product. The labelling process involves providing accurate and comprehensive details about the spirit, including its ingredients, alcohol content, and other relevant information. In the UK, the labelling of spirits is governed by both national and European Union (EU) regulations which were last updated in June 2022.
The legal framework for labelling spirit drinks in the UK primarily derives from EU regulations, particularly the EU Spirit Drinks Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 110/2008). Post-Brexit, the UK has retained most of these regulations with some adjustments. The regulations set standards for the production, labelling, and marketing of spirit drinks to ensure consumer protection and fair trade practices.
Display the name of the spirit
You must display the name by which the spirit is sold. There are differences in how the name is displayed in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Displaying the spirit name in Great Britain
In Great Britain the spirit name is known as a sales denomination.
If your product is in one of the Annex II to retained Regulation 110/2008 categories, the name of this category must be displayed on the labelling and packaging of your product. For example, if the product you are selling meets the definition of category ‘20. Gin’, the sales denomination is gin.
Displaying the spirit name in Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland the spirit name is known as a legal name.
The name you display on the labelling and packaging of the product must be the legal name, as found in the categories of Annex I to Regulation (EU) 2019/787. For example, if the product you are selling meets the definition of category ‘20. Gin’, the legal name is gin.
There are 47 categories of spirit drink in Great Britain and 44 categories in Northern Ireland.
Basic Labelling Requirements
Name of the Product
The label must prominently display the correct name of the spirit drink. This name should conform to the product’s legal definition and must not be misleading.
The alcohol by volume (ABV) percentage must be clearly indicated on the label. It helps consumers make informed choices and is a legal requirement.
The label should include details about the producer, including their name or business name, and its physical address. This ensures traceability and accountability.
Country of Origin
The country of origin or the place where the spirit was produced should be mentioned on the label.
A list of ingredients used in the production of the spirit must be provided. This includes any additives or flavourings.
If the spirit drink contains any allergens, such as nuts or gluten, this information must be highlighted on the label to protect consumers with allergies and intolerances.
Each batch of spirit drink must be identified with a specific lot or batch number. This aids in traceability and recalls if necessary.
The quantity of the product in the package should be clearly stated. It is typically expressed in litres or centilitres. Most spirits come in 70cl bottles; this is because they are seen as the perfect measurement for pubs, restaurants and clubs who usually sell spirits in 25ml or 35ml measures.
If the spirit has a specific designation, such as “single malt” or “blended,” it must be indicated on the label.
Some countries require health warnings about the risks of alcohol consumption, such as “Drink responsibly” or advisories for pregnant women.
Labelling should be in a language easily understood by consumers in the UK. In the case of imported products, additional language requirements may apply.
Bottle Shape and Size
Certain spirits may have traditional bottle shapes associated with their origin or type. The bottle size should also comply with legal standards.
Some spirit drinks may have protected geographical indications, and their labels must adhere to these designations.
Steps to Label Spirit Drinks in the UK
Familiarise yourself with the relevant UK and EU regulations governing the labelling of spirit drinks. Regularly check for updates to ensure compliance.
Conduct a thorough analysis of your spirit to accurately determine its ingredients, alcohol content, and other relevant information required for labelling.
Create a Label
Design a label that incorporates all the required information in a clear and legible manner. Consider the aesthetics and branding while ensuring compliance.
Ensure that your label meets all legal requirements. This may involve consultation with regulatory bodies or seeking legal advice.
Submit your label for approval to the relevant authorities. This may include local authorities or the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the UK.
Printing and Application
Once approved, have the printed and ensure they are securely and accurately applied to each product.
Implement a quality control process to verify that the labels are consistently applied, and the information is accurate for every batch.
Maintain detailed records of each batch, including the labelling process, to facilitate traceability and compliance with regulations.
Labelling spirit drinks in the UK is a complex process that requires careful attention to detail and compliance with regulatory standards. It is essential for producers to stay informed about any changes in regulations and to adapt their labelling practices accordingly. By following the legal framework and ensuring transparent communication with consumers, producers contribute to a safer and more informed market for spirits in the UK.
Whatever your own specific printed label requirements are, RGS Labels will make sure we understand your needs completely from the start to create the perfect custom pre-printed labels for you. Get in touch with us here.