Are we drinking Fake or Duplicate Alcoholic drink?

Indian culture is such that, we hesitate discussing Liquors or Alcoholic drinks, forget openly but even candidly. One of the reasons could be that, Alcohol drinking is not a welcomed feature in our society. Since Alcohol drinking is considered luxury it is also not discussed on public platforms. Correctly so, because people may say that, if you find any anomaly, don't drink.

But it is important to discuss the issue because the market size and drinking population in India is huge. Net sales of United Breweries and United Spirits put together itself was nearly Rs. 14,113 Crores in FY 2015-16.

On this platform, at least we can discuss consumer grievances and caution people. Therefore I am putting my views forward, which I wanted to share since long but couldn't find an appropriate platform.

My personal opinion is that, today, more than 60% of Alcoholic drinks being sold in Indian market, are either fake or duplicate. The figure of 60% looks simple but let us not forget to appreciate that, it means more than “one and half times” (40%) of original drink. This includes those sold by Wine shops, Restaurants and even Star Hotels (3 Stars and above).

At several occasions I come across with fake or duplicate Alcoholic drinks. When I raised the issue, my drink was changed without a word asked and I was not charged for the fake drink. The reason for not charging was simple that, if it was not billed, I will not have any evidence of buying fake drink and will not be able to lodge any complaint with any appropriate authority

Let us examine the reason for abundance of fake alcoholic drinks in the market, with suitable examples. Let us consider the State of Maharashtra. If the manufacturing cost 750 ml bottle of a Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) is Rs. 65, Excise Duty would be Rs. 195, VAT Rs. 97.50 and MRP of Rs. 422.50 leaving a margin of Rs. 65 for the manufacturer, out of which the manufacturer is supposed to pay transportation, Distributor & Retailers margins and other local taxes and duties as applicable. Whereas total Excise and VAT paid itself work out to Rs. 292.50.

Similarly, in case of Mild Beer, if the manufacturing cost of 650 ml bottle is Rs. 25, Excise Duty would be Rs. 37.50, VAT Rs. 26.25, MRP of Rs. 113.75, manufacturer's margin of Rs. 25 and total of Excise and VAT Rs. 63.75 per bottle.

In view of these facts, the manufacturer is left hardly with any margin after paying transportation, Distributor & Retailers margins and other local taxes and duties.

In case of fake drinks, all Government duties and taxes are avoided whereas there is no difference in MRP making it a lucrative business. These avoided Government Taxes and duties are shared between Manufacturer, Dealers, Distributors and greasing Government machinery. Since the revenue involved is huge, the matter is deep rooted.

Now, let me share the method by which I differentiate a fake drink from a genuine one:

1. Try to find Batch Number and date of manufacturing on the pack. But, not necessarily, if the Batch No. and date is mentioned, the products is genuine. But if it is not mentioned, it is definitely fake.
2. In case of Beer, take a small sip, roll it in the mouth for a few seconds and then spit it or swallow. If a tail end bitter taste id found on the tongue, instead of a smooth taste, the Beer is fake.
3. In case of IMFL, I smell the drink. If there is a strong pungent smell, instead of typical odour of that particular brand, the drink is fake.
4. In case of drinking a fake drink, I run with upset stomach and severe gastric problem and that's why I don't accept a fake drink.

My observation is that, more popular (Fast Moving) the brand, there are more chances of its being fake. Also, more expensive the product, more vulnerable it is for being fake because it leaves better margins for the manufacturer.

The question which still remained unanswered for me is that, who manufactures these fake drinks? What could be the source of such a huge volumes of Bottles, Labels, Caps, Seals, dispensers and other packaging material in the same design and pattern as in case of genuine ones? Bottles can be recycled, but what about other packaging material?

My objective of sharing this information is to caution common people so that they can be protected from drinking fake drinks and may be, if possible, alert State Governments so that they can crack such fake Alcoholic Drink Mafia and generate better revenue for the development of their respective States, if they are not already aware of the issue. more  

View all 36 comments Below 36 comments
Let there be no liquir shop except the star hotels. more  
Rattiji, Thank you very much for your comments. I am happy even if one reader takes a message from my post in right perspective. I am not good liquor consumer but I think, in case of old drinks, it is matured for, say 15 years, before packing. And if that is correct, the year of packing has no relation with the age of the drink. I am also awaiting for a "Madari"to take note of the matter and take necessary measures. more  
Sorry comment posted for a different post more  
At the moment MRP is a big fraud on the consumers in most of the cases as the MRP itself is grossly inflated .An item costing 100 has an MRP of 500and with discount of say 40% , is still sold at 300 ! more  
Mr Atul appears to be in possession of statistical information on production and consumption figures of various alcoholic drinks in Delhi and in India, although, in between, these figures tend to be supported by guesswork as well. Be it as it may, the note should be taken as a cautionary warning for those who are regular consumers and connoisseurs of alcoholic drinks. Experience about the so-called "regular consumers", however, is that most of them have little or no palette at all for distinguishing single malts from regular whiskys. Serve them local whisky out of a bottle that carries the label "single malt" (and, believe me, this is done galore in several households) and watch them finding themselves in "seventh heaven" and heaping praises on the quality of the drink! What "mascara"! Anyways, prompted by Mr Atul's text I took out a bottle of Dalwhinnie (fifteen years old) from our bar, wanting to check the bona fides. Apartment from name of manufacturer and quantity together with age the label carries a 10-digit number. The bottom of the bottle shows 750 ml (which denotes quantity of the contents), 61 mm (I thought this was the outer diameter of the bottle which on measurement reads 95 mm; the glass wall could certainly not be 15 mm thick viz 95 - 61 divided by 2), a number 1155 (I cannot place it anywhere; or is this perhaps the batch number? In that case what does the 10-digit number on the outer label denote?) and the number "02" (this could perhaps be the year of bottling!). If 2002 was the year of bottling, then how come the whisky is already 15 years old in the year 2016? So, dear readers, there seems to be a lot of meaning hidden in Mr Atul's contributory text on the subject. Now, we would perhaps need some "madari" to "suljhao this uljhan"! more  
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