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16 December 2011, 06:00
Shoppers in Essex are being warned to be on the look out for traders selling smuggled alcohol in the run up to Christmas.
It comes after a number of major operations recently which saw 300-thousand litres of beer and 130-thousand litres of wine confiscated across the county.
The alcohol was discovered in a wide range of premises including unmarked storage and warehouse facilities, retail shops, and loaded onto HGV vehicles and trailers.
HM Revenues and Customs has issued the following tips to make sure what you buy is real this Christmas:
Too low a price - the duty and vat (20%) on a 70cl Bottle of 37.5% vodka is £7.50 and for a 70cl Bottle of 40% whisky is £7.99. If you paid less than this the spirits are suspect.
Counterfeit labels are often poorly printed, common mistakes are spelling errors, print misalignment of colour logos and feint printing. Genuine spirits should be labelled with a name and address. Products with no name and address are suspect.
Labels - quality
Counterfeit labels may be stuck on crooked or creased.
Content - white particles
Bottles of vodka shouldn't have any white particles in the spirit or white sediment in the spirit, or white blooming of the glass. These effects are due to the dilution of the 'spirit' with regular tap water.
Closure - loose cap
The screw cap and its retaining ring shouldn't both turn when trying to open the bottle. This may indicate the cap has been manually fitted rather than closed by machine and the spirit may be suspect.
Taste and smell
If you buy a particular spirit on a regular basis and it either tastes or smells different then stop drinking it and report it as suspect.
Suspect spirits are often given invented names. If a search of the Internet fails to bring up either details of the manufacturer or reasonable list of wholesalers stocking the spirit then the spirit may be suspect. Similar checks can be made of the bar code.