London, 11 August 2023: A complaint made by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association against the Scottish National Party’s YES Gin has not been upheld by the alcohol industry’s Independent Complaints Panel (Panel). A copy of the full decision is available here.

A complaint was made about YES Gin under two Code rules which raised concerns that the packaging did not communicate the alcoholic nature of the drink with absolute clarity and had a particular appeal to under-18s (Code rules 3.1, 3.2(h)).

The Panel considered the overall impression conveyed by the packaging. The Panel assessed the label and noted that while some elements could have been presented more clearly, such as the alcohol by volume (ABV) of 40%, when considering the packaging in its entirety, the Panel stated there were several positive alcoholic cues. In a new precedent for the rule, the Panel stated that decisions under Code rule 3.1 should be practical and proportionate and that while the drink’s ABV presentation was unlikely to comply with relevant labelling legislation regarding one element, for the purposes of the Code, there was additional clear, sufficient information to determine that the product was alcoholic. These included the word Gin, reference to unit content and other alcohol health related information, which on balance sufficiently communicated the drink’s alcoholic nature with absolute clarity. As there was nothing else on the packaging to cause consumer confusion, the Panel did not uphold the complaint under Code rule 3.1.

While the Panel noted that the word ‘YES’ was displayed on the front and back of the packaging in block capitals and bright colours, this alone did not constitute a particular appeal to under-18s. The Panel also noted that the bottle shape was typical for gin, and the rest of the label was simple in design and did not include elements such as cartoon imagery, thick bold lines or sweet flavours which could appeal to children. The complaint was therefore not upheld under Code rule 3.2(h).

Commenting on the decision, the Chair of the Independent Complaints Panel, Nicola Williams, said: “Producers should always ensure that product information is clearly displayed on packaging and is readable to consumers. They should also consider how bright colours could appeal to children. In this case, it was clear from the overall impression of the product it was an alcoholic drink and did not have a particular appeal to children”.


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