Parliament in high spirits following vodka vote

martini2_sxc_elvinstar.jpg

MEPs believe that a compromise with the Council is at hand after a vote by the European Parliament’s lead committee on spirit labelling, which allows for vodka to be made from non-traditional ingredients. 

Contrary to the Commission’s initial proposal, the Environment Committee also voted to ban flavourings of spirits and to have the use of sweeteners mentioned on the bottle label.

The British Conservatives rejoiced at the success of one of their amendments on the labelling of vodka. Contrary to the Commission’s text, which wanted to reserve this term for spirits made from grain or potatoes, the committee’s text also allows for drinks made from molasses (the basis of rum) to be called vodka; the beverage can also be made from other ingredients such as fruit, but this must be mentioned on the label. If more than two ingredients are used, it must be called “blended vodka”. 

In a vote on 30 January 2007, Parliamentarians rejected the Commission’s idea to introduce three different classes of drinks (“spirits”, “specific spirit drinks” and “other spirit drinks”), to which different quality-criteria would have applied. 

The Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee also voted, contrary to the Commission proposal, to ban flavourings of spirits and to have the use of sweeteners mentioned on the bottle label. 

The British Conservatives rejoiced on the success of one of their amendments on the labelling of vodka. Contrary to the Commission’s text, which wanted to reserve this term for spirits made from grain or from potatoes, the committee’s text also allows for drinks made from molasses (the basis of rum) to be called vodka. Vodka can also be made from other ingredinets such as fruit, bu this has to be mentioned on the label. Once more than two ingredients are used, it must be called “blended vodka”. 

Conservative MEP John Bowis said: “Vodka in the UK will continue to bear that simple label. The attempt by the Polish and Scandinavians to restrict the term to their own products failed.” 30% of British vodka is made from molasses, which is not used in vodka’s traditional countries of origin. In order to make vodka, alcohol is distilled until it contains only about 1% of the aromates contained in whisky or cognac; it is then rarefied with water. MEPs voted for vodka to have a minimum alcoholic strength of 37.5%. 

MEPs also voted to protect geographic names and technical specifications such as “Islay Single Malt Whisky”, provided that those are also protected regionally or nationally. Parliament will vote on the vodka report in its March 12 – 15 plenary; the Council’s decision is expected in April. 

Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe

Want to know what's going on in the EU Capitals daily? Subscribe now to our new 9am newsletter.