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New EU regulations define three types of gin

After 10 years of negotiation, the regulations now include a definition for London Gin. This became fully effective on 20 May. The UK Statutory Instrument (SI), which lays down enforcement and penalties in the UK, was introduced on 15 December 2008. The new EU Spirit Drink Regulation 110/2008 is now the sole legal source for spirit drinks produced within the EU and London Gin is now a separate definition rather than a type of distilled gin as under the previous definitions.

There are three types of gin:

This is made by compounding ethyl alcohol with flavours, either artificial or natural. Gin can be coloured.

Distilled Gin
Production of distilled gin is usually in two parts. The first part is the re-distillation of ethyl alcohol in the presence of natural flavours.
After the distillation, further flavours are added and they can be either natural or artificial. Distilled gin can be coloured.

London Gin
This differs from the other gins in that all the flavouring must be part of the distillation process and the flavouring can only be natural flavourings. After the distillation, only ethyl alcohol, water and a tiny amount of sugar can be added to the distillate. (The amount sugar added is so small that from an organoleptic standpoint it has no effect. It is addedfor brand protection reasons)

• The production of all gins must ensure that the taste is predominantly that of juniper berries (juniperus communis) and there is a common minimum strength of 37.5% abv.

This change in legislation could influence some brand labels because London Gin was previously not fully defined. It was only described as a type of "distilled gin" and therefore some products labelled as a London Gin might have been taking advantage of this lack of definition to call themselves London Gin when in fact they are a “distilled gin”.

The Gin and Vodka Association is seeking to ensure products are correctly labeled, including those produced by its members in other countries, and to get the new definition adopted by non-EU authorities and producers. For example, a proposal was made to the Chinese authorities last year. The association is also investigating what accreditation or Kite mark might be developed to further enhance the reputation, promotion and protection of the London Gin category.


The International Wine and Spirit Record (IWSR) estimate that global gin sales account for 45.6 Million cases. The retail sales value of gin is estimated globally at US$4,669m. GVA members’ brands account for 15.6m cases worldwide. Of these, 12.6m cases are London Gin.

1 May 2009 - Felicity Murray