Connoisseurs of imported liquor brands in the city may be in for a shock after reading this. The illegal liquor network in Gurgaon has turned the city into a haven for selling adulterated wines and scotches, given the 20% increase in alcohol demand yearly.
The liquor mafia fills Imported Foreign Liquor (IFL) bottles with cheaper Indian varieties and sells them at the market price, fooling city residents who want to relish high-end brands. Popular brands being faked are Black Label, Chivas Regal and Johnny Walker.
The players unauthorisedly procure the bottles from scrap dealers and bars. The bootleggers hold a sizable share of the market and are making huge profit margins. On the other hand, illegal sale of top liquor brands, sourced from duty-free shops, embassies and army personnel who get a monthly quota at highly discounted rates, is also flourishing.
Regular buyers said their tout claims to procure his supply from Delhi through embassy or army personnel who sell off the extra stock illegally in the black market.
Sample this: In Gurgaon, a one-litre bottle of Black Label Scotch can be ordered online to be delivered at your doorstep for Rs 1,800. But the standard bottle size of a 750ml bottle is priced at Rs 2,400.
In India, one-litre bottles are sold only in duty-free shops and not across the counter.
Against the market price of Absolut Vodka (750 ml) of Rs 1,400, touts deliver a one-litre pack for Rs 1,000.
Touts sell alcohol online through websites, which is again an illegal act as per the Haryana Excise Act.
This has severely hit business of authorised liquor shops in Gurgaon and is eating into the revenue of the state exchequer.
Neeraj Sachdev, who owns liquor vends in Galleria Market in DLF City, Udyog Vihar, Sector 40 and Anaj Mandi, lamented that adulterated liquor was being openly sold by bootleggers in Old Gurgaon localities while touts were active in New Gurgaon areas giving stiff competition to authorised vendors.
"Bootleggers control about 20-25% of the IMFL market. They source imported brands from embassy or duty free shops. High-value imported brands are also being smuggled from countries such as Bangkok. Gurgaon is one of the emerging markets with annual rise in alcohol demand of about 20%," said Sachdev, who also imports wines.
People living in posh areas prefer buying one-litre bottles instead of the 750 ml one as they feel it is imported and not adulterated. Residents said they do not trust Indian suppliers for imported scotches. "Customers are at times fooled in this case also as spurious liquor is refilled in the imported brand bottle and passed off as original," said an excise department official.
Good deal or a rip-off in the name of brands?
Websites offering imported wines and scotches at a discounted price may be illegally sourced. Most 1-ltr bottles are not procured from authorised suppliers.