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Alcohol Units

What is a unit of alcohol? 

The unit was designed as the best means of measuring the amount of alcohol present in each drink

A unit is equivalent to 8g in weight or 10ml in volume of alcohol (Did you know the chemical name for alcohol is ethanol?).

The sensible limits for women and men are no more than three units per day for a woman or four units per day for a man. This would include two alcohol free days per week for our bodies to recover from the impact of the alcohol.

A single unit of alcohol takes approximately one hour to leave the body. Therefore, if you drink three units of alcohol it will take three hours before it leaves your bloodstream completely.

All alcoholic drinks come in various strengths and sizes, therefore it can become quite confusing when trying to work out units.

To work out how many units are in our drinks there is this simple formula:

Total Units = Volume of the drink (ml) x abv (%) 

Remember volume is in ml's or millilitres. If the bottle states volume as CL (centilitres) then using the formula divide by 100 instead of 1000

ABV or alcohol by volume is the percentage of alcohol that is in a one litre bottle of the drink which is also the number of units.

For example a one litre bottle of wine with an abv of twelve per-cent (12%) would have twelve (12) units of alcohol.

Using the formula, a 750ml bottle of the same wine would have nine (9) units of alcohol:

750ml x 12%   =  9 units


75cl x 12%   =  9 units

However rather than having to keep calculating all the time sometimes it is easier to have a handy list of units available.

Remember the following units are for guidance only.

Beer & lager




Other drinks