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Distillery apologises for selling limited edition ‘Novichok’ vodka

Bristol Dry Gin said it had not developed the 75% proof vodka to cause offence.

A distillery has apologised after developing a 75% proof vodka named after the toxic nerve agent Novichok.

Bristol Dry Gin advertised the product on its Facebook page on Saturday – three days after a major incident was declared in the Wiltshire town of Amesbury.

Emergency services were called to Muggleton Road on June 30 after Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley were found unwell.

Tests later confirmed that they had been exposed to the Novichok nerve agent. Ms Sturgess, a mother-of-three, died on Sunday.

Our new limited edition vodka is out! Set at 75%, this smooth drinking spirit is no laughing matter. Available as a 35cl...

Posted by Bristol Dry Gin Micro Distillery on Saturday, July 7, 2018

The distillery said that it had received a “flood of enquiries” about the vodka, which was released following the release from hospital of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

In posts on Facebook and Instagram, Bristol Dry Gin wrote: “Our new limited edition vodka is out! Set at 75%, this smooth drinking spirit is no laughing matter.

“Available as a 35cl bottle, perfect for manbags and gym bottles, or as a pack of three 5cl minis, a great solution to body cavity searches. Get em from our web store or distillery.”

The post was criticised by users on both social networks.

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Police remain at the house in Muggleton Road in Amesbury, Wiltshire (Steve Parsons/PA)

One Facebook user wrote: “Sorry, I think that is in very poor taste naming a gin after something that is still a very serious situation.”

Another commented: “Pretty poor taste, an innocent woman has died and a man is critically ill, i think you need to rethink your sales strategy.”

A Facebook user wrote: “Please withdraw your Novichok, at least until we are certain that the container has been found and all those affected have fully recovered.”

On Instagram, one user posted: “This is classless” along with a thumbs down emoji.

Another commented: “Epic fail.”

In a statement, Bristol Dry Gin said: “Novichok Edition has been in development for some time, and was only named and released after the Skripals had recovered.

“It was intended to lighten the mood, not to cause offence, and reaction has been overwhelming positive. We sincerely apologise if any offence was caused, especially to the families of Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley, and understand that the timing of the release of this product may have lacked sensitivity.

“The Novichok Edition is a limited edition, which sold out within a hours of being released, and we currently have no plans to produce any more, despite the flood of enquiries.

“We appreciate the messages of support which we have received, especially those from the Salisbury community, but also regret any negative feeling generated in the wider community.”

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