Cheap Vodka Vs Branded Vodka

You may be struggling to find an answer to the above question, we can all indulge the guilty pleasure of wanting to get tipsy, but the long-term costs aren’t necessarily worth it.  This article should make clear a few misconceptions that should hopefully make your decision less painful.

The words ‘fake’ and ‘alcohol’ have been grouped together more often than not, but do we truly know the words meaning and just how serious it is? Some alcohols, the most commonly counterfeited being Vodka, have been found to contain chloroform; a colourless, sweet-smelling liquid whose job criterion reads something like this:

  • Cause of blindness
  • Cause of organ failure
  • Holds power to knock drinker unconscious and even cause death. 
  • Has been used in murders, robberies and sexual assaults.

To avoid becoming a victim, it’s essential you understand the dangers of drinking bogus alcohol, and begin to consider that although recognised branded Vodka may seem expensive, a life is definitely worth more than cheap bottles of potentially dangerous booze.

What is fake alcohol?

Fake alcohol, is alcohol produced illegally in homes or unlicensed distilleries and intended for sale.  Although a license from HM Revenue and Customs is needed in the UK to distil and sell alcohol, Trading Standards Institute officers have reported an influx in the production of illegal booze.

Certified and correctly produced alcoholic beverages contain ethanol, a substance safe when drank in moderation.  But fake alcoholic drinks are made utilising cheaper types of alcohol that can cause serious long-term and adverse SIDE effects.

Chief Medical Advisor Professor Paul Wallace told organisation Drinkaware, “Commonly used substitutes for ethanol include chemicals used in cleaning fluids, nail polish and automobile screen wash, as well as methanol and isopropanol which are used in antifreeze and some fuels.  These other types of alcohol can produce similar effects to ethanol in terms of making you feel tipsy.  But they are also potentially very dangerous.”

How to recognise fake alcohol?

It’s easy to turn a blind eye to the severity of this issue and adopt a ‘that wouldn’t happen to me’ attitude.  Former Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirits Trade Association, Jeremy Beadles, agrees most consumers won’t come into contact with fake booze but stresses the importance of holding the problem in perspective.  “The vast majority of alcohol in the UK is produced and sold legitimately,” he told Drinkaware.  “Most pubs, corner shops, off licenses and other retailers are completely legitimate businesses and wouldn’t get involved with it.”

Place, Price, Packaging and Product: According to the Trading Standards Institute these are ‘the 4P’s’ to remember when purchasing alcohol. 

  • Place:  Ensure you purchase your alcohol from a licensed shop or reputable supermarket.
  • Price: If a deal strikes you as too good to be true, then it probably is.
  • Packaging:  There are many signs to look out for when it comes to the packaging of illegal alcoholic beverages.  Bottle caps should be properly sealed; if a seal is broken it’s possible the drink is not only illegal but could have also been tampered with.  If a bottle lacks a UK duty stamp (its purpose; to indicate tax has either been or will be paid) or has a fake bar code, you can bet the alcohol inside is fake too.  It’s important to keep an eye out for poor quality labelling (e.g. spelling mistakes), unusual brand names or fake versions of well-known labels, some vodka bottles been known to imitate reputable brands but misspell the brand name.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, an advisor for the Drinkaware organisation told BBC, "Spotting a fake is not always easy. Most illegal manufacturers try and imitate the UK duty paid stamp, although often it is the wrong size.  One bottle of vodka we saw claimed to come from an area called "Russia-Berlin", which ought to alert us of danger.

Consuming alcohol containing these harmful chemicals can cause a lengthy list of problems on top of those already mentioned, from nausea, vomiting, drowsiness and dizziness, to the more severe, abdominal pains, kidney and liver problems or even coma.  Doctors have warned that counterfeit alcohols, particularly those laced with methanol, are particularly critical.  They can lead to nerve damage, giving the victim symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.  Methanol can also provoke one to lose their ability to walk like a normal person.

“Branded Vodka Vs Cheap Vodka?”

Being faced with this question for a second time, hopefully now you stand unshakeable in your knowledge of which Vodka trumps the other and why!

Jessika Downes-Gössl