Guidance

Spirit drinks with a protected Geographical Indication

How to apply for verification under the Spirit Drinks Verification Scheme, and what happens if you don't.

Overview

If you produce or market a spirit drink with a protected Geographical Indication (GI) in the EU, you must follow the requirements set out in the product’s technical file.

You must also apply to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for verification under the Spirit Drinks Verification Scheme.

The current UK GI verification schemes in place are Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey, Irish cream and Irish poteen and Somerset Cider Brandy.

Apply for verification if you:

  • are involved in the production of Scotch whisky in Scotland
  • bottle, blend or label Scotch whisky outside of Scotland
  • are a bulk importer of Scotch whisky
  • produce Irish whiskey, Irish cream or Irish poteen in Northern Ireland
  • bottle, blend or label Irish whiskey, Irish cream or Irish poteen outside Northern Ireland
  • produce or bottle Somerset Cider Brandy

You should apply for verification of UK GI spirit drinks other than Scotch whisky using the relevant verification scheme. The main Scotch whisky production processes HMRC checks for compliance are:

  • fermentation (malt whisky production)
  • distillation (malt whisky production)
  • fermentation (grain whisky production)
  • distillation (grain whisky production)
  • maturation
  • blending
  • bottling and labelling of final product

If you don’t apply to have the processes you’re involved with verified, you won’t be able to market your product within the EU.

Spirits Drinks Verification Look-up Facility

The Spirits Drinks Verification Look-up Facility allows anyone to check whether production facilities, brands or bulk importers (Scotch whisky only) are verified as meeting the requirements of the schemes.

Production facilities and bulk importers

If you’re a business moving Scotch whisky in bulk or producing Scotch whisky you should use this service to check the status of the company you’re dispatching to. You mustn’t supply bulk Scotch whisky to any business outside Scotland which isn’t a verified bulk importer, blender and/or bottler and labeller.

Brands

Anyone can use the Spirits Drinks Verification Look-up Facility to check that a particular brand has been verified. Any brand that doesn’t appear on the look-up may not be legally marketed. If you’re aware of a brand being marketed which isn’t on the list, please notify us using the email address in Help and Support.

Using the Look-up Facility

Most of the information is updated on a daily basis. Details of production facilities outside Scotland is updated updated monthly. If you want more up-to-date information, wish to confirm that we have your application for verification or if you believe there are details missing or an error in the published details, please contact the Spirits Drinks Verification Unit on email: enquiries.sdvs@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk. Any reference to a ‘country’ may be reference to a country or a territory with its own passport issuing authority.

How to apply for the scheme

You need to apply for the scheme online.

Scotch whisky producers based in Scotland, Irish whiskey, cream and poteen producers based in Northern Ireland and Somerset Cider Brandy producers

Irish whiskey or cream or poteen producers and Somerset Cider Brandy producers should select ‘Other Geographical Indicators’ and type in the appropriate product.

Start the producer Spirit Drinks Verification Scheme online application.

Producers of Scotch whisky based outside of Scotland

You need to submit both producer and undertaking applications.

You’ll need to renew your undertaking status every 2 years by reapplying online:

Once you’ve sent your application for undertaking, you should also send HMRC the evidence to show your compliance with the undertaking.

Bulk importer

A bulk importer is someone who imports Scotch whisky in bulk for onward dispatch outside the geographical region of Scotland for blending, bottling or labelling but doesn’t carry out the processes themselves.

You need to submit a bulk importer’s application and an undertaking application online:

Brands

If you’re a bottler and labeller you can notify brands to HMRC using the online notification Spirit drinks verification scheme brand information. HMRC don’t charge you for brand notification.

Deadlines for applications

Scotch whisky

Bulk importers, blenders, bottlers and labellers outside Scotland

If you came into existence after 10 January 2015 you must apply for verification before seeking supplies of bulk Scotch whisky.

If you came into existence after 10 July 2014 you must apply for verification before seeking supplies of bulk Scotch whisky.

Producers in Scotland

If you came into operation after 14 December 2015, you must apply for verification before starting production.

Irish whiskey, Irish cream and Irish poteen

All businesses commencing production after 29 January 2016 must apply for verification before they start to manufacture.

Somerset Cider Brandy

All businesses commencing production after 6 November 2017 must apply for verification before they start to manufacture.

Paying spirit drinks verification fee

After you apply to join the scheme HMRC will send you an invoice covering the fee for your registration and verification. You must pay the amount you owe within 30 days of the date on the invoice.

Certificates of age and origin

Certificates of age and origin prove the authenticity of spirit drinks and help them enter into overseas markets. You can get certificates of age and origin from HMRC. To apply, contact certificates.sdvs@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.

You can find more information on certificates of age and origin in Section 12 of the technical guidance on the Scotch whisky verification scheme.

Restrictions for moving Scotch whisky from Scotland to another country

You can only move Scotch whisky outside Scotland in bulk (excluding single malt) to someone who’s been verified by HMRC.

You can’t move the following categories of Scotch whisky from Scotland in a wooden cask or other wooden holder:

  • single grain Scotch whisky
  • blended malt Scotch whisky
  • blended grain Scotch whisky
  • blended Scotch whisky

You can only move single malt Scotch whisky from Scotland to another country in a bottle made of inert material holding 2 litres or less. You:

  • must label it for retail sale
  • mustn’t bottle or rebottle outside Scotland

You can’t remove single grain Scotch whisky, blended malt Scotch whisky, blended grain Scotch whisky or blended Scotch whisky from Scotland other than:

  • in a bottle (made of any inert material) that’s labelled for retail sale
  • to an importer, bottler or blender who has undertaking status with HMRC as part of the Spirit Drinks Verification Scheme

Moving Scotch whisky in bulk outside Scotland

You can only market Scotch whisky produced using processes at facilities outside Scotland if HMRC verify the facilities and processes are compliant. You mustn’t supply bulk Scotch whisky to any business outside Scotland which isn’t listed by HMRC as a verified bulk importer, blender and/or bottler and labeller.

Help and support

If you have any questions about the scheme or information concerning verified bulk importers and facilities outside Scotland, contact enquiries.sdvs@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.

Read more detailed guidance about the Spirit Drinks Verification Scheme.

Published 20 October 2014
Last updated 6 November 2017 + show all updates
  1. Somerset Cider Brandy has been added to the UK Geographical Indication (GI) verification schemes.
  2. Spirits Drinks Verification Look-up Facility section has been updated.
  3. Spirits Drinks Verification Look-up Facility section has been updated.
  4. The Irish whiskey, Irish cream and Irish poteen verification link added to Overview section on this page. The first heading in the Apply section has been changed to Scotch whisky producers based in Scotland and Irish whiskey/cream/poteen producers based in Northern Ireland Irish whiskey/cream/poteen producers should select ‘Other Geographical Indicators’ and type in the appropriate Irish product.
  5. The list of verified facilities and processes outside Scotland has been updated.
  6. List of verified facilities and processes outside Scotland spreadsheet updated as of September 2015
  7. List of verified facilities and processes outside Scotland spreadsheet updated as of July 2015.
  8. List of verified facilities and processes outside Scotland spreadsheet updated as of May 2015.
  9. List of verified facilities and processes outside Scotland spreadsheet updated as of March 2015.
  10. Guidance update on the introduction of a new on line look up service for verified Bulk Importers of Scotch Whisky and production facilities outside Scotland.
  11. First published.