Published: 20 May 2016
Q: I have just taken over a licensed premises. The owner of a bar down the road recommended an alcohol wholesaler who can provide me with cheap alcohol. Is there anything I should look out for?
A: All alcohol wholesalers must now register under the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme with HM Revenue & Customs. From April 2017, if you intend to purchase alcohol from any wholesaler, you will be under a legal duty to ensure you are buying from a registered wholesaler. Failure to conduct those checks will carry criminal sanctions. HMRC will publish more information about access to the register before it goes live.
Often, if a deal is “too good to be true”, it usually is.
However, if you are tempted, firstly, check if the products are listed on a VAT receipt, and the duty stamp should be part of the label, not just stuck on the bottle. Be cautious of poor quality labelling and packaging, obvious errors like spelling mistakes and irregularly shaped bottles. Also look for unusual separation of liquids or sediments in a bottle. Conduct a “sniff” test to see whether there are any bad or unusual smells coming from the bottles. Illegal alcohol puts customers’ health at risk and consumption of alcohol containing contaminants such as anti-freeze, varnish etc. can ultimately cause death. Therefore, if in doubt, do not make the purchase.
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