Moves to restrict vodka production within the EU would damage the industry's competitiveness, experts have warned.

Delegates at a public hearing in Brussels said that attempts by countries including Finland and Poland to protect vodka as a traditional spirit made only from grain or potatoes should be rejected.

The Finns will use their six-month EU presidency, which starts on 1 July, to push for change, but the European Commission wants to maintain the status quo and allow vodka to be made from a range of ingredients, including molasses. 

Any reclassification of vodka - which has never been subject to the same production restrictions as Scotch whisky - would confuse consumers and increase the threat from rival producers in Russia, drinks industry specialists said.