New metric spirits measures came into force in the Isle of Man on 30 September 2022. They replaced old imperial spirits measures of fluid ounces and gills. These new measures apply to spirits sold in pubs, clubs and restaurants. Spirits in the Isle of Man have gone metric because it is getting harder for licensees to obtain imperial measuring equipment for spirits.
As a result of these difficulties, some premises were using illegal measuring equipment. The Isle of Man’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said that a situation where some premises were using legal measuring equipment and others using illegal measuring equipment cannot be allowed to continue. John Peet, Head of OFT said: “We recognise the argument to retain the Isle of Man’s uniqueness and in normal circumstances would wish to retain it. However, a situation where illegal measuring instruments, or even a mix of legal and illegal measuring instruments, were used in licensed premises could not be allowed.”
These measures were introduced by the Weights and Measures (Intoxicating Liquor) (Amendment) Order 2022. The law change regarding spirits follows feedback that it is increasingly difficult to track down the correct measuring equipment, as most other jurisdictions already use metric. Spirits that are affected by the new metric measures include gin, rum, vodka, whisky and brandy. At the same time that they have gone metric, their measures have been reduced by 3.4ml to 25ml to promote sensible drinking.
Sherry, port and Madeira were already sold in metric units, but their quantities have been reduced. Wine measures were also metric, and their quantities remain unchanged. Under the new legislation, the metric measures for alcohol are:
|Sherry||50 ml or 70 ml|
|Port||50 ml or 70 ml|
|Madeira||50 ml or 70 ml|
|Wine||125 ml or 175 ml|
All other wines sold in the glass are deregulated if sold in quantities of less than 75 ml.
The experience of the Isle of Man should serve as a warning to the British Government. If the British Government brings back imperial measures for trade, they are bound to face the same problems as the Isle of Man has had with obtaining imperial measuring instruments. If the Government allows some traders to sell solely in imperial measures, they have to ensure those traders have accurate imperial measuring equipment and trading standards departments have accurate imperial calibration devices to ensure that those traders’ equipment is accurate. And where are they going to get it from?
How ironic that the Isle of Man, a British crown dependency right on our doorstep, is going metric while the UK is thinking about going back to imperial measures. Let’s hope the UK learns lessons from the Isle of Man’s experience and abandons its plans to reintroduce imperial units.
Last month, BBC News reported the metrication of spirits measures in the Isle of Man. You can find the report at: