The market for counterfeit alcohol is also growing again with the number of seizures of counterfeit alcohol more than doubling in the past year. Fourteen seizures of counterfeit alcohol have taken place to date in 2015 according to figures released by the Revenue Commissioners. These comprise around 230 litres of vodka in total.
This compares with just seven seizures in the year to the end of July last year (totalling just 80 litres).
But only two people have been convicted on counterfeit spirits charges in the year to 30th September which has resulted in fines of €5,000.
In the year to the end of July last year, this figure stood at seven with fines totalling €17,500.
Apart from being illegal and constituting tax evasion, counterfeiting spirits is dangerous as it’s not subject to any quality control standards and subject to unregulated sale while undermining the legitimate trade and taking funds from the Exchequer, state the Revenue Commissioners.
Spirits – mainly vodka – is the most common category of alcohol to be counterfeit, illicitly produced, bottled and packaged to resemble the genuine product.
In many cases the alcohol is sourced from the industrial alcohol sector and may contain high quantities of methanol. Human consumption of methanol is very dangerous and it can have severe and fatal affects including blindness.
The bottles are filled with raw alcohol to a predetermined amount and then diluted with water to the normal strength of alcoholic spirits on the market – approximately 40% or 37.5% ABV.
The bottles used in this process are generally genuine bottles sourced from recycling centres, pubs and other places where they may be discarded.
In premises where illegal alcohol has been detected, it’s evident that there’s no quality assurance process in place and that hygiene is virtually non-existent, state the Revenue Commissioners.