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HMRC internal manual

VAT Food

From
HM Revenue & Customs
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Excepted items: beverages: alcoholic beverages

Under excepted item 3, all alcoholic beverages which are chargeable with excise duty are standard-rated. This provision is self-explanatory and applies the standard rate of tax to beer, wine, made-wine, cider, perry, spirits and liqueurs. Black beer and most canned shandy is not charged with excise duty, but both are standard-rated by excepted item 4 as other beverages.

Excepted item 3 does not apply to alcoholic jelly, or food products preserved in alcohol, such as peaches in brandy, which are zero-rated as food, but does apply to semi-set jelly containing alcohol sold as an alternative to more traditional types of alcoholic drink, which is standard-rated.

Alcoholic bitters for example Angostura bitters are not considered to be beverages. And are therefore zero-rated.