A new artisan vodka from Cheshire? Not quite. Officials uncovered an illegal vodka operation in an industrial unit in Widnes last week Friday, with 130,000 litres of 'potentially toxic fake vodka'.
The joint operation between HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), Cheshire Police and Trading Standards discovered, in addition to the spirit, suspected counterfeit labels and bottle tops for Number 1 Imperial Vodka Blue, a brand that HMRC currently believes to be fake, but is investigating.
'As well as potentially risking the lives of people drinking the fake alcohol, this factory had the capacity to rob taxpayers of millions of pounds in unpaid duty – money which should be spent on vital public services,' said Sandra Smith, assistant director of criminal investigation at HMRC. 'People buying the counterfeit vodka may have thought they were getting a bargain, but it has been distilled in unregulated conditions and may pose a serious health risk. We will continue to work in partnership with other law enforcement agencies such as the police and Trading Standards to tackle the issue of illicit alcohol in our communities and across the UK.'
Cheshire Police detective chief inspector Paul Beauchamp said: 'We carried out a warrant at a business premises under the misuse of drugs act and discovered this illegal operation on our doorstep. We are pleased that we have helped to take this dangerous counterfeit vodka off the streets and are continuing to work with our colleagues in HMRC and Trading Standards.'