Labelling Requirements for Alcoholic Beverages
Common Name

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Many alcoholic beverages have a standard of identity or composition prescribed in Division 2 of the FDR. For beverages meeting one of these standards, the common name appearing in bold face type in the regulations must be used if that beverage has been imported or is intended for interprovincial trade.

The common name for an alcoholic beverage without a prescribed standard is the name by which the food is generally known or, when none is available, a name that describes the true nature of the product.

Generic terms such as "beverage", "drink", "cooler", "spirit", "mix", "liquor", as appropriate, are accepted in the common names of unstandardized foods. Examples:

  • "Alcoholic beverage" or "malt beverage" are acceptable common names for a product that does not meet the malt liquor standards but is made from ingredients such as malt, hops and corn syrup, and has an alcohol content of 1.1% alc./vol. or more;
  • "Sugar cane spirit" is acceptable as a common name for an unstandardized product made from the distillation of fermented sugar cane juice;
  • "Maple flavoured liquor" is an acceptable common name for a product made from fruit spirit and maple syrup. Alternatively, this product could be called "fruit spirit with maple syrup".

The Common Name for Beer and Common Name for Wine sections provide more information on common names for those specific types of alcoholic beverages.

For more information, including with respect to the placement and type height of the common name declaration, refer to Common Name.

Geographic Origin – Common Name

Some names may be protected as Geographical Indications under international agreements or law. A Geographical Indication describes a product which has a quality, reputation or other characteristic that is essentially attributable to its geographic origin.

An alcoholic beverage name appearing on the List of Geographical Indications for Wines and Spirits maintained by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) must originate from the geographical region after which it is named and cannot be modified by the addition of qualifiers such as "Canadian Champagne" or "California Burgundy". A list of Geographical Indications eligible for protection and the country of the responsible authority can be found in the List of Geographical Indications for Wines and Spirits on the CIPO website.

Names of Spirits – Distinctive Products

Under the terms of the Agreement Between Canada and the European Community on Trade in Wines and Spirit Drinks, Canada agreed to restrict the use of certain spirit drink names to spirit drinks originating from specific countries only. Protection of these spirit drink names is provided for in Canada in the Spirit Drinks Trade Act (SDTA) which is administered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). A list of spirit drink names, protected under the SDTA, that can only be used to describe a product if the product originates in a specific geographic area can be found on AAFC website.

Language Requirements – Common Name

The common name must appear on food labels in English and French [B.01.012(2), FDR; 6(2), CPLR]. The following alcoholic beverage common names are considered bilingual common names under section B.01.012(10) of the FDR:

Advocaat or Advokaat, Akvavit, Americano, Anisette, Apricot Brandy Liqueur, Aquavit, Armagnac, Bourbon, Brandy, Calvados, Campari, Chartreuse, Cherry Brandy Liqueur, Crème de Banane, Crème de Bleuets, Crème de Cacao, Crème de Cassis, Crème de Menthe, Crème de Noyau, Curaçao Orange, Dry Gin, Fior d'Alpe, Grappa, Highland Whisky, Irish Whisky, Kirsch, Kummel, Liqueur de Fraise, Mandarinette, Manhattan, Marc, Martini, Ouzo, Pastis, Peach Brandy Liqueur, Poire William, Prunelle de Bourgogne, Rye Whisky, Scotch Whisky, Tequila, Triple Sec, Strega, Sake or Saki, Slivovitz, Sloe Gin.

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