New guidance has been issued to ensure gin lovers are not misled by the advertising and marketing terms used to promote the drink.
The new guidance from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) outlines what is required to ensure that gin produced in Ireland is labelled correctly, in line with legislative requirements and is not mislabelled or marketed in such a way as to mislead consumers.
The FSAI has already published similar guidance for the labelling of Irish whiskey.
The popularity of gin in Ireland has exploded in Ireland in recent years.
As a result, the size of the domestic gin industry has expanded exponentially, with more than 30% growth in sales in some years. Around 50 brands of gin are currently produced in Ireland.
However, concerns have been raised that some products, which are similar to gin, have been marketed to appear as gin.
The new guidance states that for a drink to be labelled as Irish gin, a certain production process must be followed.
Besides water and alcohol, the only other raw materials that can be used for making gin are natural flavourings referred to as botanicals. The predominant flavour in gin is always juniper.
Additional flavourings or plants with flavours may also be used to give variants like pink gin.
These guidelines also address the use of place names to promote gin, the listing of allergen information and the packaging material used.
Chief executive of the FSAI Dr Pamela Byrne the guidance was produced to ensure that the industry clearly understands its legal responsibility and complies with EU labelling regulations.
"While gin is defined in the legislation as a ‘juniper-flavoured’ spirit drink produced by flavouring ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin with juniper berries, a ‘juniper flavoured spirit drink’ is a separate spirit drink, which is produced by flavouring ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin or grain spirit or grain distillate or a combination thereof with juniper berries."
"The minimum alcoholic strength by volume of a juniper-flavoured spirit drink is 30%, while the minimum alcoholic strength of a gin is 37.5%.
"Therefore, it is important to remember that these ‘juniper-flavoured spirit drinks’ cannot be labelled as ‘gin’. Similarly, the use of the word ‘distilled’ must be used carefully as prescribed in the guidance, as must geographical descriptors,” she said.
Chair of the Irish Gin Working Group in Drinks Ireland|Spirits David Boyd-Armstrong welcomed the guidelines as good news for both the consumer and the industry.