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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Christian Davis

The owner of Roxxoff, the controversial vodka-based herbal Viagra pop' RTD which has fallen foul of the Portman Group, has slammed the industry watchdog, describing it as a group of fuddy-duddy puppets' representing the vested interests of the drinks industry's major companies and brands. Chris Williams, the 52-year-old owner of Yours Alternatively, told Harpers that the 5.4% ABV drink (which comes in three flavours - Black Lemon, Blueberry and Pink Passion) is only available in grown-up places [pubs and clubs] where it is drunk by grown-up people'. He accused the major drinks companies of hypocrisy, saying that if they were truly concerned about alcohol abuse and underage drinking they would stop their RTDs such as Smirnoff Ice, Bacardi Breezer and WKD from being sold in supermarkets and shops with off-licences, where, he claims, underage teenagers can easily obtain them. Williams said his Epsom-based firm was not a Mickey Mouse company' and that it has been sourcing herbs for remedies and potions for 20 years. He added that Roxxoff came about after a discussion about the poor quality of some of the caffeine-based drinks. Someone said: "So what would you put in it?"' Williams also claimed that The Independent has called Roxxoff the first responsible alcopop'. He added that there was so much interest in Roxxoff that he was arranging distribution in 20 countries. He still intends, however, to get it listed in as many UK clubs and pubs as possible. Williams said the fact that Diageo was the first to object to the Portman Group's complaints panel showed clear commercial connivance'. As well as finding the drink's name and packaging in contravention of the Code of Practice, the Portman Group's independent panel, through a Retailer Alert Bulletin, also objected to the website, which talked of the possibility of creating a race of randy superbeings'. The Portman Group's chief executive, Jean Coussins, said that she believes that all responsible retailers will refuse to stock Roxxoff. The bulletin states that: licensing committees may decide to make enquiries about licensees' compliance with the code when considering applications for renewal of a liquor licence'.