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Top 10 banned alcoholic drinks

The drinks trade has seen its fair share of drinks banned from public consumption over the years, be it for their political, legal or saucy undertones.

More often than not, it is a brand’s packaging that prompts a ban. Recently Diageo faced that threat after its Johnnie Walker Explorers’ Club Collection lost a trademark battle with the real life Explorers Club in New York. With millions invested into its launch, Diageo avoided a ban by entering into a licensing agreement with the Explorers’ Club, the details of which were not disclosed.

Last week Budweiser got into hot water for carrying a controversial tagline on its Bud Light bottles proclaiming their product to be the perfect beer for “removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary” as part of its “up for whatever” campaign. Social media users quickly branded the ad “rapey” accusing Budweiser of encouraging irresponsible alcohol consumption. In a case of self-censorship, the brewer hastily announced it would be ceasing production of bottles carrying the message.

While Budweiser was able to hastily sweep this misguided attempt at marketing under the carpet and continue about its business, other brands have not been so lucky. While many have found themselves on the wrong side of marketing and trademark laws, others have been banned completely having been accused of unethical behaviour, inciting violence and offending entire religions, among other things.

Click through to see which brands made our top 10 banned alcoholic drinks..

If you’ve think we’ve missed any out, please leave a comment below.

The Simpson’s Duff beer

Last year Woolworths Liquor Group was forced to pull cans of its “Duff” beer in Australia just months after it was launched after it was found in breach of the country’s alcohol advertising code.

The Alcohol Policy Coalition complained to Australia’s the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC), that the product had a “strong or evident appeal to children or adolescents” due to its association with The Simpsons television series, adding that such an association could encourage children to drink it. In banning the beer the ABAC said: “The association of The Simpsons with the product name and packaging is so strongly entrenched in Australian popular culture that the name and packaging will draw the attention of under 18 year olds.”

The beer, which is brewed in the US by the Woolworths Liquor Group’s brands division Pinnacle Liquor Group, is officially licensed by 20th Century Fox.

Five Wives Vodka

In June 2012, The Idaho State Liquor Division (ISLD) banned the sale of Utah-produced Five Wives Vodka claiming it was “offensive” to the State’s prominent Mormon population. The product, which features five women dressed in Mormon attire hitching their skirts up on its label, was launched in November 2011 by Ogden’s Own. However with 27% of Idaho residents being members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the ISLD moved to ban distribution of the vodka to protect the “safety and well-being” of its citizens.

Despite its initial ban, that same month the ISLD retracted its ban after the distiller of Five Wives Vodka threatened legal action.

Red Army vodka

Red Army vodka, which comes packaged in a gun-shaped bottle alongside a glass grenade was banned in the UK after alcohol marketing laws deemed its association to violence and aggression “entirely inappropriate”. The AK-47-shaped bottle came as part of a gift pack which included shot glasses and a glass grenade filled with a Russian herbal liqueur, and had retailed for around £100. The controversial product sparked a complaint to The Portman Group, accusing it of linking the consumption of alcohol with “violent, aggressive, dangerous or anti-social behaviour”.

Top Totty beer

A beer named Top Totty was banned from a bar at the House of Commons in 2012 after it was judged to be offensive to female MPs.

Brewed by Slater’s in Stafford, the guest ale was said to have left  shadow equalities minister Kate Green “disturbed” when she saw it in the Strangers’ Bar in the Houses of Parliament. The MP made an official complaint and it was removed from sale at the bar.

The 4% ale, which is brewed with Whitbread Golding hops, is described by the brewery as “a stunning blonde beer, full-bodied with a voluptuous hop aroma”.

Dead whale beer

A brewery in Iceland raised the ire of animal rights protestors last year after it announced its intention to launch a beer brewed using a by-product of while meat and oil. The Steojar brewery and whaling company Hvalur had teamed up to make the brew announcing that it was to be sold at the country’s then up-coming mid-winter festival, Þorrablót. However after an investigation by the public health inspector in Iceland, the beer was banned as Hvalur did not have a licence to sell the whale meal for consumption. The brewery owner, Dagbjartur Ariliusson, said he had used one kilo of meal for every 2,000 litres of beer and said, “you can feel the whale taste in the undertone and the aftertaste.”

It echoes a similar ban in 2012 which saw popular London bar Nightjar banned from serving got into a cocktail that contained whale skin-infused Scotch whisky. It is illegal to hunt or trade cetaceans such as whales or dolphins, forcing the bar to swiftly pull the cocktail – called the Moby Dick – and issue an apology. The bar claimed that the 5cm strip of skin was purchased by an employee while on a trip to Japan in autumn 2011, and placed in a bottle that was topped up with whisky over the course of the year.

High strength grain alcohol

High strength grain alcohol has endured a tumultuous history in recent years, with many US states moving to ban the high-proof spirit in a bid to crackdown on binge drinking among college students.

Most recently, Maryland introduced a ban on grain spirit with an abv of 95% and above, backed by a group of university presidents concerned about the increased sexual assaults and excess taking place on their campuses. It is now illegal to sell 190-proof (95% abv) grain alcohol in the state, such as Everclear, a spirit old by American company Luxco and bottled at both 151-proof (75.5% abv) and 190-proof (95% abv) levels. Those found in breach of the law will be fined up to US$1,000

A total of 13 US states have so far outlawed the spirit.


Dirty Bastard beer

In 2012 the Alabama state alcoholic beverage control agency banned a beer called Dirty Bastard to keep dirty pictures and dirty words away from children,” Bob Martin an attorney for the control board said at the time.

Ironically, the state does allow the sale of Fat Bastard wine and also approved the sale of another brand of beer called Raging Bitch.


Stiffy’s Jaffa Cake vodka


The Portman Group banned sales of Stiffy’s Jaffa Cake vodka liqueur in 2011 claiming that it was inappropriately linked to sex. It said the name “Stiffy” was an overtly sexual reference, forbidden under the Portman Group Code. The producer said at the time that its was named after the nickname of a person involved in the drink’s development, rather than for its sexual connotations.

The company later changed its name to Stivy’s.

Motorhead beer

Mötorhead found itself under scrutiny from The State Alcohol and Tobacco Company  (ATVR) of Iceland in 2012, which banned sales of the heavy metal band’s Motörhead Shiraz in the country amid claims its name gave a nod to amphetamine abuse.

ÁTVR refused to sell the Australian wine in the 48 Vínbúðin off-licences it owns across the country, claiming that the wine promoted an unhealthy lifestyle due to references to war, unsafe sex and substance abuse in Motörhead songs.

The band, which has been together for 37 years, has given its name to Motörhead Shiraz, as well as several other products, including Motörhead Vodka and Motörhead Rosé. Motorhead Shiraz was first released in Sweden in 2010.


Perhaps the most notorious banned spirit in drinks history, absinthe is a traditional French and Swiss spirit distilled from grand wormwood, anise, sweet fennel and other herbs. With an abv of between 45 to 74%, the spirit has long battled misconceptions that it causes hallucinations and bouts of madness, which led to its widespread ban. By 1915, it had been banned in the United States and in much of Europe, including France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria-Hungary. Bans have slowly been lifted and today the spirits is produced in about 20 countries and exported all over the world.

As recently as 2007, the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau lifted its ban on absinthe. It has since approved many brands for sale in the US market. Shock rocker Marilyn Manson was quick to take advantage of the change in the law, launching his own brand “Mansinthe” in 2008. 

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