FSAI issues guidance on gin production following concerns that 'fake gin' is being sold

THE FOOD SAFETY Authority of Ireland has issued new guidance around the production of gin in Ireland after concerns were raised that “fake gin” was mislabelled and sold on the market. 

The FSAI’s chief executive Dr Pamela Byrne said there was a distinction between gin, which is juniper-flavoured, and other juniper flavoured spirits, and that the new guidance sets out the requirements necessary for a product can be labelled as gin. 

“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,” she said.

“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.”

Besides water and alcohol, the only other raw materials that can be used for making gin are natural flavourings referred to as botanicals.

The popularity of gin in Ireland has exploded in recent years with gin-themed bars popping up across the country and supermarkets lining their alcohol aisles with several different varieties of the alcoholic drink. 

Drinks Ireland, the representative group for alcoholic drinks manufacturers and suppliers in Ireland, welcomed the move by the FSAI and said misleading labelling “undermines” the domestic gin industry. 

David Boyd-Armstrong co-founder of Rademon Estate Distillery, which produces Shortcross Gin, said: “There are now many Irish gin producers and numerous Irish gin brands on the island of Ireland, and consumers at home and abroad are responding positively to the diverse and distinct tastes being created here.”

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“However, as Irish gin grows in popularity, there is increased chance that the consumer may be misled on what it is that they are consuming. This can undermine the high-quality products being created by our Irish gin industry. Drinks Ireland and its gin producing and brand owning members welcome the new FSAI guidance,” he added. 

There are around 50 different gin brands produced in Ireland with a growth in sales of 30% recorded in recent years.  

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