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Record keeping for alcohol distilleries

Records to keep if your business operates an alcohol distillery that manufactures spirits.

Last updated 14 May 2023

Records for distilleries

If you manufacture spirits, you need to keep detailed records of your operations.

You need to:

  • keep the records required by your licence
  • keep the records for the period advised on your licence (generally 5 years)
  • make these records (and copies) available to us if we ask to see them.

If you cease to hold an excise licence you must keep all records of your previously-licensed activities, for the period advised on your licence.

Most records required are those that you would normally use in your business operations. If your records don't meet the requirements, we may direct you to maintain specific records.

For more information on record-keeping, see:

Distillery manufacturing records

In addition to the general records for your alcohol business, if you manufacture spirits you need to keep records that cover the entire manufacturing process, including:

  • receipt of raw materials
  • production process
  • packaging
  • stock on hand
  • sales
  • excise return lodgment and excise duty payment.
Distillery – records and information to keep

Examples of types of records

Information your records need to show

Raw material register

Only the primary raw material needs to be recorded:

  • wine – for brandy and grape spirit production
  • fermentable starch and sugar – for fermentation processes associated with whisky and grain spirit or rum and molasses spirit production.

The minimum details need to be:

  • invoice number
  • date, type and quantity of material received
  • opening stock quantity
  • date, type, quantity and batch number for the raw material used in production
  • closing stock quantity.

Fermentation record

Distillers will record many details as they monitor the fermentation process.

The minimum details need to be:

  • batch identification details, for example, batch number, type
  • the quantity of fermentable product to be fermented (litres)
  • the specific gravity of the fermentable product, prior to fermentation and post fermentation
  • the quantity of fermented product (litres) transferred from the fermenter
  • the final strength of the fermented product.

Distillation record

The minimum details need to be:

  • date of distillation
  • still used (if more than one still on the excise-licensed premises)
  • identifying number of the charge (consecutive numbering system)
  • type of alcohol, for example, grape wine, sugar, grain
  • vessel identification number prior to input to still
  • quantity of alcohol to the still (litres)
  • strength of alcohol to the still
  • litres of alcohol to the still (litres × strength = LALs)
  • vessel identification number for spirit received from still
  • quantity of alcohol from the still to the receiving vessel (litres)
  • strength of alcohol from the still
  • litres of alcohol from the still to the receiving vessel (litres × strength = LALs).

Bulk storage register

There must be an audit trail that traces underbond excisable product as it moves in and out of bulk vessels.

The minimum details need to be:

  • movements from the still to a vessel
  • movements between vessels
  • movements to the still (re-distillation where there is a corresponding Distillation Register entry)
  • movements out to packaging
  • underbond movements in or out
  • feints destroyed
  • manufacture for example, mixing with other ingredients such as caramel, or addition of water.

Packaging record

The minimum details need to be:

  • product type
  • date of packaging
  • packaging unit size for example, 700 ml bottles, 100 litre barrels
  • volume available for packaging including litres and alcoholic strength
  • total number of units packaged
  • packaging losses incurred.

Where spirit is moved to wooden barrels for maturation, the minimum details that need to be kept are:

  • product type
  • date, quantity transferred into the barrel (in litres) and temperature, strength, litres of alcohol
  • date, quantity transferred out of the barrel (in litres) and temperature, strength, litres of alcohol
  • losses incurred during maturation.

Packaged product register

The minimum details need to be:

  • product type
  • package type and size
  • opening stock details and date
  • quantities of packaged stock as a running total
  • alcoholic strength of product
  • date on which product was moved to packaged stock
  • quantity of product moved to packaged stock
  • date on which product was moved out of store
  • quantity of product moved out of store
  • details of breakages and loss of products and any remissions claimed.

Supplying concessional spirits records

If you supply concessional spirits, you also need to keep:

  • records of the spirit supplied
  • evidence that the purchaser is entitled to receive concessional spirit
  • a running record of the spirit you have supplied to each purchaser, so they don’t exceed the limit on their permit.

You can also contact us for further guidance or examples of appropriate records to meet the record-keeping requirements.