Changes to the definition of cider
For tax purposes the definition of cider changed with effect from 1 September 2010. The new definition includes the minimum amount of juice content (35%) and strength of apple and pear juice necessary for a drink to be classed as cider (including perry and pear cider). The changes applyto liquors where fermentation of the apple or pear juice began on or after 1 September 2010.
HMRC have published a copy of the relevant legislation and accompanying explanatory memorandum on their website.
The memorandum explains the rationale behind this change as follows:
‘There has been a substantial amount of concern from both the cider production industry and health campaigners about low quality cheap ciders benefiting from low duty rates in comparison with other alcoholic drinks.
Some products which can take advantage of the lower duty rates include drinks which derive very little alcohol from apple or pear juice, but instead rely on the fermentation of sugar from other sources. These types of product were never envisaged to be classed as ciders as they are closer to other products classified as made-wines. This Order will specify minimum amounts of industry standard juice from which alcohol is to be derived in order for an alcoholic drink to be classed as a cider’.