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Geographical origin of spirit drinks

In order to protect consumers and develop the spirit drinks* sector, the European Union has created a legal framework that ensures uniform EU-wide rules on the marketing of spirit drinks.


Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and the Council of 15 January 2008 on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 1576/89



It sets the rules regarding the definition, description, presentation and labelling of spirit drinks, and also the protection of geographical indications. It applies to all spirit drinks, whether produced in EU or non-EU countries.


  • Annex II of this regulation highlights 46 different categories for spirit drinks with different qualities the spirit drink must have in order to be included in any given category. If the spirit drink contains qualities from several categories, then it may be sold under one or more of the category denominations.
  • The general rules concerning the presentation and the labelling of foodstuffs apply to spirit drinks. However, specific labelling and presentation rules are laid down in this regulation, such as labelling the raw materials used, drawing the parameters of the term ‘blend’, indicating the maturation period, banning lead-based capsules from being used as closing devices and ensuring that labelling is given in one or more of the EU's official languages.
  • The geographical indication identifies a spirit drink as originating within the territory of a country where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic is attributable to its geographical origin.
  • In order to register a geographical indication, both EU countries and non-EU countries must submit an application to the European Commission. The application must include a technical file containing information such as the description of the spirit drink, the definition of the geographical area, a description of the method for obtaining the spirit drink, any requirements laid down by European, national or regional provisions, and the name and contact address of the applicant.
  • If the spirit drink no longer possesses the characteristics described in the technical file, the European Commission may cancel the registration of a geographical indication.


* Spirit drinks: alcoholic drinks intended for human consumption. By definition, they possess particular organoleptic qualities and have a minimum alcoholic strength of 15 %. They are produced by distillation, by maceration or by the addition of flavourings, or by mixing a spirit drink with another drink, ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin or certain distillates.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 110/2008



OJ L 39, 13.2.2008, pp. 16-54

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1334/2008



OJ L 354, 31.12.2008, pp. 34-50

Successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purposes only.


Commission Regulation (EC) No 936/2009 of 7 October 2009 applying the agreements between the European Union and third countries on the mutual recognition of certain spirit drinks (OJ L 264, 8.10.2009, pp. 5-6)

last update 02.10.2015