02 August 2023
les spiritueux en France
Why is the French Minister of Agriculture interested in spirit drinks  ?

French Minister of Agriculture Marc Fesneau attended the last general meeting of the French Spirits Federation on 4th of July 2023. Looking at France’s foreign trade figures, it’s easy to see why he was there. Indeed, the wine and spirits sector is the second largest contributor to the balance of trade surplus behind aeronautics. While the wine sector are well known to the French, spirits are less so. What are spirits? Are liqueurs also spirits?

Did you say Spirit drinks? What do we mean by spirits ?

When we talk about spirits, we are talking about spirit drinks. A spirit drink is obtained either directly by distillation of naturally fermented products, or by maceration of plants in ethyl alcohol or distillates of agricultural origin.

The minimum alcoholic strength for spirits is 15% vol and there is no maximum. So, when we talk about spirits, we’re not talking about wine.

This large family of spirit drinks includes 44 categories, the best known of which are rum, vodka, cognac and liqueurs.

With 700 million litres produced, France is the European Union’s leading producer of spirit drinks. French spirits are recognised throughout the world and we can be proud of this. By 2022, export sales of spirits will reach €5.4 billion. Cocoricooo! 🐓

Are liqueurs spirits ?

Yes, liqueurs are part of the large family of spirit drinks. As well as meeting the definition of a spirit drink, the sugar content is regulated. A liqueur must contain a minimum of 100 grams of sugar per litre. Creams are a sub-category of liqueurs, with a minimum of 250 grams of sugar per litre. The exception is ‘crème de cassis’, the blackcurrant liqueur, which has 400 grams of sugar per litre.

Speaking of ‘crème de cassis’, Cassis de Dijon is one of 51 geographical indications in the French spirits sector.

In terms of figures, liqueurs account for 10% of total French spirits exports, with growth of 14% over 2022. Liqueurs are a true French savoir-faire. They are very popular with our foreign neighbours. There’s no doubt that Briottet liqueurs have a bright future ahead of them!

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