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The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Daniel Byron

Shops warned to stop mafia-themed Scotch whisky orders

SHOPS have been asked by regulators to stop placing orders for a mafia-themed Scotch whisky.

The call came from the Portman Group – which regulates the UK’s alcohol sector – after it found that Polish firm Bartex Barton had breached rules over its Cosa Nostra titled product.

Cosa Nostra is the name of a well-known faction of the Italian Mafia. The whisky also comes in a bottle shaped like a Thompson submachine gun.

The watchdog said that both of these facts link it to violent behaviour and criminal activity.

The spirit is advertised as recalling “the era of Al Capone or Lucky Luciano”.

The whisky is presumably being sold as a novelty item, but in Italy stereotypes about organised crime are no laughing matter. As financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore noted: “The word Mafia reminds us only of pain and death."

In a retailer alert bulletin, the Portman Group said: "The panel considered that a Tommy gun was often used in depictions of historical organised crime syndicates, and while a Tommy gun was not a contemporary gun, the average consumer would recognise it as a firearm.

"Therefore, the panel considered that the shape of the bottle created a clear link between the drink and a dangerous weapon which was wholly inappropriate for an alcoholic drink.”

The finding comes after Italy's largest agricultural trade group, Coldiretti, condemned the Cosa Nostra product for associating itself with the Sicilian mafia.

In 2014, Portman Group issued a retailer alert bulletin against Bartex Bartol for its product Red Army Vodka.

It concluded then that its packaging was "unacceptable for an alcoholic drink because they suggested an association with violent and dangerous behaviour".

Nicola Williams, chair of the Portman Group's independent complaints panel, said: "In light of rising gun crime in the UK, it is deeply irresponsible of an alcohol producer to glamorise firearms and market a product in this form.

"I hope Bartex Bartol takes note that such products are completely unacceptable."

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