Units and calories in spirits
Get the facts about spirits and what you can do to cut back on the amount you drink.
- What are the daily unit guidelines for spirits?
- Check the strength of your spirits
- Reducing the amount of spirits you are drinking
What are the daily unit guidelines for spirits?
The government advises that people should not regularly drink more than the daily unit guidelines of 3-4 units of alcohol for men (three single 25ml measures of whisky) and 2-3 units of alcohol for women (three single 25ml gin and tonics). ‘Regularly’ means drinking every day or most days of the week.
As you can see from the chart, three 35ml 40% measures of spirits puts a man over the daily guidelines. Just two 35ml 40% measures will put a woman close to the upper guideline limit.
If you regularly drink over these guidelines, you could be increasing your chances of developing long-term health conditions. Find out more about the effects of alcohol.
Check the strength of your spirits
Checking a spirit's ABV (alcohol by volume) will give you a guide to how strong it us. The ABV tells you what percentage of the drink is made up of alcohol. For example, a spirit with 40% ABV is 40% pure alcohol. The higher the percentage, the more alcohol is present.
Things you can do right now to reduce the amount of spirits you are drinking
Spirit measures are so small that you can easily drink over the guidelines without really noticing. To stay on track, try these top tips:
1. Mind your measures at home If you're used to drinking doubles, try switching to single shots of spirits. Avoid measuring spirits by eye – it's easy to over-pour. Why not order our unit measure cup from our online shop.
2. ...and at the bar Although spirits used to be commonly served in 25ml measures, many pubs and bars now serve them in 35ml or even 50ml measures. Ask before you buy so you can keep track of how much you are drinking.
3. Avoid shots Downing any kind of alcoholic shots will take you over the daily unit guidelines very quickly, so try and avoid doing them.
4. Give alcohol-free days a go. If you drink regularly, your body starts to build up a tolerance to alcohol. This is one of the main reasons why it’s important to consider taking regular breaks from drinking. Test out having a break for yourself and see what positive results you notice.
5. Keep a drink diary If you choose to drink, recording exactly what you've drunk during the week will give you a great idea of whether you're within the guidelines. MyDrinkaware, our drink tracking tool, is perfect for this.
Discover some more practical ways to cut back on spirits with our tips on cutting down
Common spirit brands in the UK
- Bombay Sapphire
- Captain Morgan
Are you drinking too much?
Find out how many units you are drinking
Compare your drinking to the government's daily unit guidelines.Try our Unit Calculator
Take a drinking self assessment
Answer these simple questions and find out what kind of a relationship you have with alcohol.Assess your drinking
Page updated: May 2013
Did you know?
More than 1 in 10 deaths of people in their 40s are from liver disease, most are from alcoholic liver diseaseAlcohol and the liver
Calculate your calories
Find out how many calories are in your drinksTry our unit calculator
- How much is too much for under 18s to drink?
- Units and calories in wine
- Units and calories in lager
- Units and calories in cider
- Alcohol poisoning
Also in this section
Daily unit guidelines
You should not regularly exceed:Find out how many units are in your favourite drink