Panel to vote on proposal that Estonian Vodka must be made in Estonia

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Photo: Elmo Riig / Sakala

An advisory committee for the Estonian Ministry of Agriculture is about to vote on a proposal according to which vodka bearing the geographical indication Estonian Vodka/Eesti Viin must be produced in Estonia from locally grown raw material and local water.

The chairman of the committee, Illar Lemetti, sent a letter to members of the committee on Thursday in which he asks them to vote for the proposal to accept the application for registration. The vote is scheduled to be taken on Friday, after which the committee's proposal is to be forwarded to the minister of agriculture.

According to the proposal, the committee will deem it necessary to define in the technical file of the geographical indication the physical, chemical and organoleptic properties characteristic of Estonian Vodka that set vodka with this geographical indication Estonian Vodka apart from other vodkas. The proposal says the purpose of claiming Estonian Vodka as a geographical indication is to help businesses enhance their competitiveness through attaching value to the quality of Estonian vodka and giving the consumer better information about the technology of production, characteristics and specific features of Estonian vodka.

Estonian Spirit OU filed an application with the Ministry of Agriculture at the beginning of 2013 to register Estonian Vodka as a geographical indication. The minister of agriculture set up an advisory committee to review applications and opinions concerning the matter.

The European Parliament and Council enforced a new regulation on spirit drinks in May 2008 which lists Estonian Vodka as a protected geographical indication alongside the geographical indications for the vodka of Finland, Sweden, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland. For all the registered geographical indications, the member states must present a technical file by Feb. 20, 2015 the latest.

In addition to four representatives from the Agriculture Ministry the committee consists of representatives from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the Ministry of Justice, the Veterinary and Food Board, the consumer protection authority, the Estonian Sommelier Association, the Traders Association and the Olustvere School of Service and Rural Economy.