Proofing Tolerances in the UK

edited July 2019 in General

I cannot find the answer to this anywhere:

For the UK market, what is the proofing tolerance, in ABV % when proofing a spirit?
For example, if the spirit is 40% ABV.

I understand the tolerance on beer between 1.2% and 5.5% ABV is plus or minus 0.5%.

I cannot find any information on spirits though.


  • edited July 2019

    My understanding is that you require Kite marked hydrometers to BS5470. I think most UK distillers go to Stevenson Reeves. These have a 0.2kg/m3 tolerance.

    You use them for Spirits declarations using the Practical Alcohol Tables Volume 2 and a suitable thermometer. If you contact Stevenson Reeves directly, they will send you a price list for distillers, which is a lot more informative than their website!

  • Thanks for the info.

  • that doesn't answer your question, I wish I knew.. I work off 0.2% but always try to get it bang on.

  • HMRC don't provide any info whatsoever. Easy to find out what equipment is accepted, but not the tolerance.

  • try calling them. our tax office rep here in Aus is very helpful

  • edited July 2019

    Many aspects of British commerce are now governed be EU Regulations rather than the old British ones. Of course this may change in the future! I think what you are looking for is covered by following

    Commission Directive 87/250/EEC of 15 April 1987 on the indication of alcoholic strength by volume in the labelling of alcoholic beverages for sale to the ultimate consumer

    Article 1

    This Directive concerns the indication of the actual alcoholic strength by volume in the labelling of beverages containing more than 1,2 % by volume of alcohol other than those classified under headings No 22.04 and 22.05 of the Common Customs Tariff.

    Article 2

    (1) Alcoholic strength shall be determined at 20 °C.

    (2) The figure for alcoholic strength shall be given to not more than one decimal place. It shall be followed by the symbol ‘% vol.’ and may be preceded by the word ‘alcohol’ or the abbreviation ‘alc.’.

    Article 3

    (1) The positive and negative tolerances allowed in respect of the indication of the alcoholic strength by volume shall be as follows, expressed in absolute values:

    (a) Beverages not specified below:

    0,3 % vol.;

    (b) Beers having an alcoholic strength not exceeding 5,5 % vol.; beverages classified under subheading 22.07 B II of the Common Customs Tariff and made from grapes:

    0,5 % vol.;

    (c) Beers having an alcoholic strength exceeding 5,5 % vol.; beverages classified under subheading 22.07 B I of the Common Customs Tariff and made from grapes; ciders, perries, fruit wines and the like, obtained from fruits other than grapes, whether or not semi-sparkling or sparkling; beverages based on fermented honey:

    1 % vol.;

    (d) everages containing macerated fruit or parts of plants:

    1,5 % vol.

    (2) The tolerances set out in paragraph 1 shall apply without prejudice to the tolerances deriving from the method of analysis used for determining the alcoholic strength.

  • HMRC doesn’t have a tolerance. If you say it’s 40% you pay the duty on it. For labelling purposes you get 0.2% based on average fills.

  • Thanks Katmar.

    DunderHeid - it's not HMRC I had in mind. Rather the weights and measures department of Trading Standards.

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