Alcohol Specifications

European Union


Neutral Alcohol
("Ethyl alcohol for agricultural origin" for use in blending alcoholic beverages)


Specifications of ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin, (as referred to in Article 1(3)(h), Annex 1, of 
Council Regulation No. 1576/89, of 29th May 1989),
Article 43 Annex 3 of Commission Regulation (EC) No 1623/2000 of July 25th 2000


1. Organoleptic characteristics: No detectable taste other than that of the raw material.
2. Minimum alcoholic strength by volume: 96% vol.
3. Maximum values of residue elements:
Total acidity: Expressed in g of acetic acid per hl of alcohol at 100% vol. 1.5 (15 ppm)
Esters: Expressed in g of ethyl acetate per hl of alcohol at 100% vol. 1.3 (13 ppm)
Aldehydes: Expressed in g of acetaldehyde per hl of alcohol at 100% vol. 0.5 (5 ppm)
Higher alcohols: Expressed in g of 2-methyl, 1-propanol (iso-butanol) per hl of alcohol at 100% vol.

0.5 (5 ppm)

Methanol: Expressed in g per hl of alcohol at 100% vol. 50 (500 ppm)
Dry extract: Expressed in g per hl of alcohol at 100% vol. 1.5 (15 ppm)
Volatile bases containing nitrogen: Expressed in g of nitrogen per hl of alcohol at 100% vol. 0.1 (1 ppm)
Furfural: Not detectable


1. The 500 ppm figure for methanol is not a typographical error. It was a political decision made in 1980, just after the Iranian oil crisis. At that time, alcohol producers using potatoes or grapes as feedstock, with consequently high levels of methanol, claimed that it would be very costly in energy to try to abide by a lower methanol standard. Currently, there is an effective informal standard of a maximum of 50 ppm of methanol, and many producers offer spirit with a much lower methanol concentration.

2. There was a translation error in the "organoleptic characteristics" line. The English original reads "No extraneous flavour detectable in the raw material". The translation presented above is taken from the French original.

Go back                                                                                                                                                                                        last updated 07/12/01