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HMRC internal manual

Spirits Production Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Law, Policy and Application - Whisk(e)y definitions


Whisky or whiskey is defined as


A spirit drink produced by the distillation of a mash of cereals-

  • Saccharified by the diastase of the malt contained therein, with or without other natural enzymes;

  • Fermented by the action of yeast; and

  • distilled at less than 94.8% vol., so that the distillate has an aroma and taste derived from the raw materials used, and matured for at least three years in wooden casks not exceeding 700 litres capacity – Council Regulation (EEC) No 1576/89, Article 1 paragraph 4(b)

Policy and Application

Self explanatory.

Council Regulation (EEC) No 1576/89 lays down the definition, description and presentation of spirit drinks. All whisky or whiskey manufactured in or imported into the EU must conform to the definition laid down in this regulation.