A little game of “Gin” or “Spirit Drink”

Now this post may or may not be contentious (depending on who employs you). 

Regulation does exist with regards to the spirit drink known as Gin. I have placed links to these regulations as a page on my blog HERE

There are some that say that we should not stifle innovation in the Gin category. my personal take is that there are more than enough opportunities with the Gin regulations to provide variety and nuances for every taste (as long as that taste is for Gin). 
I believe if we could hear what is really being thought inside some distillers’ heads when they say this, it might sound like:
“Please don’t use the regulations as they were intended, as I can reach many more customers, and sell much more if I use the word ‘Gin’ prominently on the label”

This has little to do with innovation and everything to do with maximising profits, distillers can innovate as much as they like and call it a “Spirit Drink” just not include the word “Gin” on the label – simples!
As with all regulation it is open to interpretation, so this is my point of view based on regulation which for me appears to be reasonably clear. The basis of my interpretation is the following:

  1. Juniper-flavoured spirit drink must be a minimum of 30% ABV juniper flavour must be discernible (Annex II -19)
  2. Gin must be a minimum of 37.5% ABV and “the taste is predominantly that of juniper” (so you can take ‘vodka’ and add natural flavourings and call it Gin as long as the predominant flavour is juniper) (Annex II -20)
  3. Distilled Gin must be a minimum of 37.5% and “the taste is predominantly that of juniper” and different to just ‘Gin’ all of the ingredients must have been distilled (can be added separately, but must have been distilled) water may be added to reach the distillers ABV (Annex II -20)
  4. London Gin (or London Dry Gin) differs from Distilled Gin in that not only must the ingredients be distilled it must be distilled together, this means that only water may be added to reach the required distillers ABV (Annex II -21)
  5. Where alcohol is added you may use “spirit drink” and it may not bear in any form a reserved name (eg GIN) (Article -11/1)
  6. Where a spirit drink does not meet the regulations under a specific category it may only be labelled as “Spirit Drink” and must not include any of the Annex II 1-46 names (Article 9 -2) (eg GIN)

So roll on up lets play “Gin” or “Spirit Drink”…..

A drink that tastes of juniper but is less than 37.5% – this is a “Juniper spirit drink”

A drink that tastes of juniper is over 37.5% where some or all of the flavour has been added using a food flavouring – this is a “Gin”

A drink of minimum 37.5%ABV, tasting predominantly of juniper and all of the alcoholic liquid has been derived from distilling (albeit possibly separately) with only water added – this is a “Distilled Gin”

A drink of minimum 37.5%ABV, tasting predominantly of juniper and all of the alcoholic liquid has been derived from distilling the botanicals together with nothing added after distilling (apart from water) – this is a “London Gin” or a “London Dry Gin”

A drink of minimum 37.5%ABV which has been derived from a gin base that does NOT predominantly taste of juniper- Either a “Juniper Spirit Drink” or simply “Spirit Drink” shock Not a Gin!!!!

A drink which mixes a Gin or a distilled Gin with another categorised alcohol – this is a “Spirit Drink” and not a gin – so diluting a Gin to a given ABV with anything other than water eg: Wine; Sake; brandy; whisky etc etc means it is no longer a Gin (see Article 9-2). I can think of a few on the market that should be relabelled and reclassified even ones from the likes of Diageo (in my opinion) to “Spirit Drink”

A drink which is a mix of GIN and fruit ‘syrup’ (known commonly by customers as a liqueur) – this is a XXXXX Liqueur where XXXX = the name of the fruit involved, and must not include the word “Gin” in its title. so not a “Gin Liqueur” there are many of these on the market that should all be relabelled (in my opinion)

——     Thank you for playing    ——-

I am of course always open to discussion on the subject, but please use the regulations available to us all when doing so openly. This blog may change over time as regulations change and I am happy to amend it if this is the case or if met by a compelling argument.

Now I was going to give some specific examples with label photos…..

but I am a mere gin punter, and I do get quite aggravated by industry people (Distillers, Guilds etc) wanting to discuss this and discuss that to mobilise the paying public, when what they should be doing is pulling their fingers out of their own behinds and actually prosecuting some of the manufacturers over incorrect labelling.

This post is predominantly to promote more focused discussion….
Update: Feb 18th…. The Gin Guild have recently stepped up their consumer advice in National press and Radio – good news and well done!