Skip to main content

Counterfeit alcohol hits Nairobi

Counterfeit The Famous Grouse 
 bought at a shop along
Nairobi's Dubois road,
note the packaging.
Dishonest dealers in Kenya are now repackaging various alcohols and selling them off to unsuspecting buyers. The scam appears to target a broad range of popular spirits, including Smirnoff Vodka and The Famous Grouse Whiskey. Various residents have reported that the drinks are sold in shops in down-town Nairobi and cheap clubs.

Popular drinks are either substituted with similar looking forms of alcohol or blended with them. Vodka is substituted with chang'aa , a local moonshine drink while brandies are used to dilute, or wholly sold off as more expensive whiskies. There is suspicion that some of the alcohol used in this drinks is diluted industrial alcohol. Industrial alcohol is normally cleared, with tricks such as food colouring and perfume deployed to have the counterfeit alcohol look like the genuine one.

The syndicate appears to be recycling bottles which are collected from garbage dumps, especially in Nairobi Eastlands areas. Consumption of such alochols is high to provide a steady supply of enough bottles for the counterfeiting.


Genuine The Famous Grouse .
Popsop.com states that 
the design is award winning.
Note how the bird is placed
on the three sides of the box.
(image: popsop.com)
There also appears to be some form of manufacturing as packaging material for the alcohol, including caps , labels and boxes. The material often differs from the genuine brand in colour, wording and imagery. As an example, the counterfeit The Famous Grouse  has the imagery of the grouse on three sides of the box, rather than a single bird on three sides. On careful observation, the labels also appear to be stuck with normal glue. For other drinks, it is hard to differentiate the counterfeit and genuine ones as they normally do not have other forms of packaging, other than the bottle.

Normally, more costly spirits feature a refill-proof plastic contraption that is fitted into the neck of the bottle just below the mouth. A non-refilled bottle should have a ball in the plastic contraption that jiggles when the bottle is shaken. Counterfeiters have gotten around this feature by removing the ball, refilling the bottles and then sealing them again by fixing a plastic fitting using super glue. This means that one has to break the small plastic fitting in contrast to a genuine spirit where the bottle has to be tilted at an angle for the drink to flow out.

Notable outlets stocking counterfeit alcohol include two spirit stockists along Dubois road , off Accra Road. Here, 750 ml bottles of spirits including The Famous Grouse and Johnnie Walker  retail at Ksh 1,300 compared to supermarkets where the drinks start at about Ksh 1,700. East African Breweries directly retails Johhnie Walker at about Ksh 1,400.

A bust of counterfeit spirits in Malaysia,
more images here.
When contacted, Viva Distributors, who are in charge of distributing The Famous Grouse  in Kenya, did not seem shocked and handled the matter casually.

The far east , with a burgeoning middle class, is notorious for rackets that specialise in counterfeit liquor , especially in China and Malaysia. In 2010, China was rocked by a fake wine scandal where wines consisted of nothing but water and chemicals.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The bitter story of the downfall of Mumias Sugar company

A spoonful of sugar, but for who? ( Image: Carol Wallis on Flickr ) Have you heard the bitter story of Mumias Sugar? Regarded by many as Kenya's most successful sugar miller, Mumias Sugar Company was a disaster waiting to happen. Many pointed out how Mumias Sugar Company was a fortress in the wreck that is Kenya's sugar industry, only unaware that it was just a matter of time. As the old wise men said, "Ukiona cha mwenzako cha nyolewa, tia chako maji". The proverb means that if you see your neighbour's head getting shaved, your head will soon be undergoing the same - you'd therefore better wet your head for a smoother shave, otherwise you will be forced to undergo a painful, dry, shave. But what ails Kenya's sugar industry? The Kenya sugar industry is under legal siege. The typical Kenyan issue of coming up with laws to tackle a problem is evident here. Many of Kenya's sugar factories are owned by the government, and have slowly decline

Why Humanity Hasn't Learned From the Covid Pandemic

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic began ravaging the world, succeeding the 1918 flu pandemic.  Many found it unbelievable that despite all the scientific progress that the world has made since 1918, from composite jets to modern healthcare to going to the moon, the world was still susceptible to a pandemic.  Ironically, some of these advancements largely played a role in the spread of the pandemic. Thousands of global flights every hour and air conditioning fanned its spread like a dry wind would in a forest fire.  There was even further disbelief in mid-2020 when it became apparent that many countries were even struggling to keep a pandemic in check. Developed countries, supposed to have the best healthcare, suffered the worst outbreaks amidst disagreements on measures such as quarantines and wearing of masks.  In yet another twist, technology advancement finally came to our rescue with the speedy development of vaccines, including the safe pioneering of never-tried-before mRNA vaccines

Beers in Kenya: A sober opinion

Note: This is a dated post and has since been mostly passed by events. SAB Miller beers including Castle and Peroni are no longer widely available in Kenya after their exist. Sirville Brewery was bought out by Brew Bistro before being permanently shut in a tax dispute. Kenya is a land of milk, honey, beaches and taxes. I have penned, or is typed, a newer post here .  Peroni - One of the best beers in Kenya. Did a taste of canned and bottled Italian, and bottled Tanzanian I like the tangy flavour and body in Tanzanian Peroni. The can is close. Heineken drinkers will like the Italian one.  I have had a short beer swigging stint in my life. It has however been long enough for me to share my opinion of Kenyan beer. Interestingly, over the course of sharing such opinions with other drunkards connoisseurs,  I have found that we all have different views as to what beer is the best, which one makes you too drunk, or which one gives one free, extra hangover for every hangover you get

Heineken 0.0 Best Alcohol Free Beer

What if you wanted to drink a beer, but without getting drunk? Say, you don’t drink alcohol, or for one reason or another, you are off alcohol. Or perhaps it’s a working day, and you would like to have a cold one in the middle of the day but without all negative effects. Well, you could. Welcome to the world of Alcohol-free beer.  Over the last few days, I’ve been enjoying some Heineken 0.0 rather than the typical beers. Now, Heineken 0.0 is a beer, in the malt lager style as the standard Heineken, the only difference being that all the alcohol has been removed - it contains less than 0.03% alcohol, which counts as safe enough even for those who are pregnant or affected by alcohol, according to Heineken. It smells very close to a Heineken, tastes close to a Heineken, and you even keep taking a piss like you would when drinking a Heineken - but you never get drunk.  How do they remove all the alcohol? From my research, they brew a standard Heineken beer as normal, then use some form

Kenyan products: The art of punishing your consumer

This post was written in 2011. Facts may have and indeed have changed - but the conclusion has not.  Dormans instant coffee tastes better than Sasini instant coffee. Ramtons electronics are manufactured for Kenya's Hypermart Limited, yet maintain a high product quality Peanut butter used to taste so good, but you could not afford it on the pocket money that you got back in school. A few years later, you have your first real job and your first "disposable" income. You buy your first real tub of peanut butter, probably the first in your life. You feel proud that Dominion peanut butter is manufactured in Ruiru, a town that you visited in your campus days to withdraw your pocket money, it was the nearest bank ATM to your campus.  This was before Equity bank became a mainstream bank and decided to open an ATM in your campus, and before M-Pesa meant that you