Spirits production in the UK (Excise Notice 39)

Find out what spirit manufacturers need to do to comply with HMRC.



This notice explains the:

  • licensing of distillers, rectifiers and compounders
  • procedure of approving distiller’s plant and production process
  • warehousing of spirits
Published 1 January 2012
Last updated 25 March 2024 + show all updates
  1. Information around changes in ownership in section 3.1.1 has been updated to include details about new owner obligations, what happens to a registration when a company changes ownership and what happens when there are changes to persons with significant control within a limited company.

  2. We have updated this notice in line with changes to Alcohol Duty that came into effect on 1 August 2023.

  3. Reference to Single Malt Welsh Whisky has been added so manufacturers know what they must do to must comply with HMRC.

  4. Section 7.4 has been updated with more information about labelling and alcoholic strength.

  5. Information added for the changes to legislation and update to the new legal definition of made-wine, now called other fermented products.

  6. Information has been added about the changes to Alcohol Duty from 1 August 2023. Section 7 has been updated to explain the changes for working out alcoholic strength and section 11 has been updated to explain the changes when mixing alcoholic products.

  7. Information has been added about the changes to Alcohol Duty from 1 August 2023.

  8. Out of date information about distiller’s warehouses has been removed from section 10.

  9. Section 10.3 has been updated as spirits produced by a third-party distillery may not be stored or processed in a distiller’s warehouse which is not directly connected to the production distillery. Sections 14 Exports of small producer spirits, 14.1 Small producers in Great Britain and Northern Ireland exporting spirits to outside the EU, 14.2 Small producers in Northern Ireland moving spirits in duty suspense to the EU and 14.3 Small producer spirit export declaration have been added.

  10. Sections 2.1, 3.1 and 14 have been updated with information about a change of business ownership.

  11. This page has been updated because the Brexit transition period has ended.

  12. Information added about temporary changes to the use and supply of denatured alcohol and duty-free spirits, to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

  13. Guidance on the accuracy of returns has been updated.

  14. Section 11.3 has been updated with information on where you can send a written general enquiry about excise.

  15. Section 14.1 updated to clarify when a rectifier or compounder doesn't need a licence to re-distil, combine or mix spirits.

  16. Updated Excise Notice 39 cancels and replaces the previous version issued on 1 January 2012.

  17. First published.