Published on January 24th, 2013 | by Dean Carr
Liqueur chocolates- are they an age restricted product?
There is real confusion out there about liqueur chocolates. Are they classed as alcohol? Do you need an alcohol licence to sell them? Are they an age restricted product? In 2011, Business Secretary Vince Cable waded in and made headlines with a promise of de-regulating liqueur confectionery. The misconceptions stuck.
With a box of chocolates at hand, we present a definitive guide to the place of liqueur confectionery in licensing law.
Liqueur chocolates and the law:
The guide below is split into two very separate categories: ‘standard’ liqueur chocolates and very strong liqueur chocolates. It is important to recognise this distinction.
Standard liqueur chocolates
1: Not classed as alcohol:
Liqueur chocolates are not classed as alcohol in licensing law. In fact, they are specifically included in the Licensing Act 2003 (section 191) in a list of products containing alcohol that are not included under the term ‘alcohol’. Other entries include perfume and flavouring essences used in cooking.
As such, they are not lumped together with alcohol as an 18+ age restricted product.
2: Not licensable
With point 1 in mind, liqueur chocolates are separate from the two alcohol licences: the personal licence and the premises licence. You don’t need to be licensed to sell them.
3: Age restricted (16+)
Nevertheless, liqueur confectionery is an age restricted product in its own right. A customer must be aged 16 or over to purchase liqueur chocolates.
Very strong liqueur chocolates
There is an important exception to the above- very strong liqueur chocolates. The Licensing Act 2003 (section 191) states liqueur confectionery means confectionery that-
(a) Contains alcohol in a proportion not greater than 0.2 litres of alcohol (of a strength not exceeding 57%) per kilogram of the confectionery
(b) either consists of separate pieces weighing not more than 42g or is designed to be broken into such pieces for the purposes of consumption
In other words, three variants of liqueur chocolate would be classed as alcohol:
• Chocolates containing liqueur stronger than 57% ABV
• Chocolates housing a lot of booze- more than 0.2 litres per kilogram
• A great big block, rather than lots of little chocolates
This is a common sense clause, designed to separate the majority of liqueur chocolates from highly alcoholic confectioneries.
Strong liqueur chocolates that exceed these limits are classed as alcohol, are a licensable product and fall within the 18+ age restriction for alcohol.
These strong liqueur chocolates, usually specialist luxury chocolates, are the products that Vince Cable referred to in his 2011 statement. With regards to liqueur confectionery, the Licensing Act 2003 has not yet been amended, and it is unlikely to be in the near future.