New EU spirits regulations come into force

New rules over the definition, description, presentation and labelling of spirits have been written into EU law, providing increased protection for the sector.

Following years of negotiations, the 28 EU member states settled on the updated set of regulations at the end of last year.

These regulations have been published in the EU’s Official Journal today (17 May). The majority of the new rules will be applicable from 25 May 2021, while certain provisions on geographical indications (GIs) will apply from 31 May 2019.

Trade body the Irish Spirits Association (ISA) has welcomed the adoption of the new laws, claiming they “will ensure better protection for Irish whiskey, Irish cream and Poitín into the future”.

The regulations will see “an increase in the harmonisation of standards across the EU”, in addition to “clearer and more consistent” labelling for spirits.

GI statuses will also benefit from an additional seven years of protection, while “more traditional production methods” will also be preserved, which is expected “to clamp down on fake GI spirits”.

Vincent McGovern, head of ISA, said: “Ireland’s spirits industry is an important and growing indigenous sector, with products that stand out on the global stage as a result of their heritage, quality and authenticity.

“With growth anticipated to continue, increased protection for our spirits industry is very important and these new EU rules really help.

“While benefitting Irish producers, the new rules will also be good for consumers, who will be better able to make informed choices, as there will be more uniform labelling requirements across the EU.”

The ISA has been involved in a two-year lobbying campaign to improve the regulations for spirits, tackling laws that “undermined Irish GIs”.

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Author: Nicola Carruthers {authorlink}