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Bottling it up – Do’s and don’ts when labelling and marketing gin

Jo Cook

Do’s and don’ts when labelling and marketing gin (and non-gin beverages) including low/no alcohol drinks and gin liqueurs and other spirit drinks.

Jo discusses the labelling requirements and legal definitions of gin, and how producers should promote their products to stay on the right side of the law and trading standards, as she talks through the key pieces of legislation involved.

Joanne Cook is a Senior Trading Standards Officer with Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards (The Gin Guild’s Primary Authority partner). Working on the business advice team she is the main contact with the Gin Guild for advice.

Jo has worked in Trading Standards for over 30 years gaining experience in a number of subjects including Weights and Measures, Age Restricted Sales, Products Safety, Consumer Rights and Food Standards.

Questions raised by the audience at Ginposium

1. Where a lower alcohol product is made with gin, can Gin be mentioned in the name? Yes, an example would be a Gin and tonic premixed drink.

2. Can the term “spirit” be used in a low or no alcohol product? Consumers associate the word ‘spirit’ with alcohol and so use of this term should always be qualified by the appropriate low and no descriptor, such as “low alcohol spirit”.

The ABV should also be prominently stated on the front of the label to make it clear and ensure customers are not misled. Another term associated with alcohol is “Distilled. To ensure such references are not misleading References to distilled/distillation should be accurate and only be made in relation to the part of the product that have gone through the distillation process. This could be the whole beverage or only part of it.

3. Are there any definitions to the terms locally sourced, traditional, artisanal? Terms such as Natural, Pure, Traditional are defined in the FSA document below: Draft Executive Summary of FAC Review of the use of the terms Fresh, Pure, Natural etc (

4. Are there any limitations on the use of “Local” / ”locally sourced” There is no definition laid down for local, however the exemption for providing a nutritional declaration provides a definition of local as: sales within the establishment’s own county plus the greater of either the neighbouring county or counties or 30 miles/50km from the boundary supplying establishment’s county,

5. Are there any limitations on the use of “Artisan” There is no definition by the FSA of artisan, but this one provided by the Irish FSA is the definition I tend to use. The terms ‘artisan’ or ‘artisanal’ or similar descriptions using these terms should only be used on foods or in advertising of foods that can legitimately claim to meet all of the following criteria:

  • The food is made in limited quantities by skilled craftspeople
  • The processing method is not fully mechanised and follows a traditional method
  • The food is made in a micro-enterprise at a single location
  • The characteristic ingredient(s) used in the food are grown or produced locally, where seasonally available and practical