China

Bathtub booze and knock-off whisky: inside China’s fake alcohol industry

Drinkers are unwittingly knocking back fake alcohol brewed in bathtubs, which could lead to potentially serious health

“A friend and I bought a bottle of Cutty Sark whisky here once,” says Beijing-based marketing consultant Blake Stone-Banks, sitting on the terrace of a rough and rammed bar in Sanlitun, one of the Chinese capital’s busiest commercial areas. One estimate suggests around 30% of all alcohol in Chinais fake

“It tasted funny so we limited ourselves to one glass each,” he says. “Later, I received a call from my friend’s wife telling me that he’d fainted. I went to see them in hospital and he was unable to speak. He was given a drip and waited it out for a few hours.”

Stone-Banks is sure that the cause of the collapse was fake alcohol, the black market supplying it having exploded in China in the past decade alongside the expansion of the bar industry there. Fake alcohol is generally either illegally made, unregulated drink – think bathtubs and grubby tubes – or, more commonly, cheap but legally produced alcohol placed in higher-end bottles and passed off as the brand on the label. Read the full story here.