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Warning to Cornwall about 'potentially deadly' 95% alcohol

Warning to Cornwall about 'potentially deadly' 95% alcohol

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 8:12am 5th May 2020. (Updated at 12:08pm 5th May 2020)

A warning is going out to Cornwall about a potentially deadly type of alcohol with a 95% volume.

Cornwall Council’s Trading Standards team is warning members of the public to avoid the super-high strength alcoholic drink after concerns were raised over its safety and labelling.

Bottles of ‘Spirytus’ (rectified spirit) have been seen on sale in Wales with an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 95% - more than three times that of most spirits.

One 500ml bottle of the high-strength spirit may contain the equivalent amount of alcohol of 38 standard drinks.

Reports also suggest the alcohol has been marketed as being ‘suitable as a disinfectant’ which is incorrect. To confuse matters further, the product is not clearly labelled in English.

Consumers are being advised to steer well clear of the product and under no circumstances to consume it neat. 


Jane Tomlinson, Trading Standards Team Manager, explained that officers in Cornwall would be contacting all shops likely to be offering this product for sale.

“Most spirit drinks are around 40% ABV, so this is far more than double the strength of regular spirits.

"We don’t want people to misuse the product thereby posing a risk to their health and their lives. Furthermore, to claim that the product is suitable as a disinfectant adds further confusion and risk to potential buyers.”

Jane Tomlinson, Cornwall Trading Standards

In November 2014 a teenager in Perth, Scotland died after drinking three shots of this brand, reigniting the debate over the commercial availability of super-strength alcohol. Nicole Bicknell collapsed after drinking the spirit on her 18th birthday and died a few hours later.

The spirit is thought to originate in Poland, but the labelling is not in English, and it has no warnings that it must not be consumed neat. 

Thought to be one the strongest commercially available spirits in the world, many retailers and stockists say ‘Spirytus’ should never be consumed neat and if drunk at all should be used only as a base for liqueurs and other infusions. 


“An ABV of 95% is simply too strong an alcohol to be drunk neat and the risks are heightened if it does not have adequate labelling, for example, not having instructions for use in English.

“It is not acceptable for consumers to be offered food and drink products without clear labelling and instructions. And to then claim that the product is suitable for disinfectant is also grossly irresponsible.”

Rob Nolan, Cornwall Council’s Cabinet Member for Trading Standards

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