Bristol Gin draws backlash for poking fun at race riots in social media post

02 June, 2020

A British producer has drawn a backlash for suggesting its 75% abv Turbo Island gin is perfect for rioters that want to hurl Molotov cocktails.

Bristol Gin posted a picture of two bottles of Turbo Island, a flaming shot and some tissue paper on social media.

“When the shooting starts the looting starts,” read the caption. “Voted No 1 gin by rioters for its complex botanical mix and high flammability.”

A Miami police chief initially used the quote when vowing to use shotguns and dogs to combat crime in black neighbourhoods back in 1967. US President Donald Trump drew fierce criticism when he used the same quote to warn rioters in Minnesota against looting this week.

The US is now engulfed in the most intense race riots it has seen in decades. It started with the death of black man Floyd George while in police custody in Minneapolis – arresting officer Derek Chauvin has since been charged with murder – and protests have spread across the country, with largely peaceful protests often descending into violence and looting.

Bristol Gin decided to make light of the situation with its Tweet and Facebook post, but it immediately sparked a flood of criticism from the people of Bristol, while BBC presented Dan Walker called it “pretty vile”.

One Facebook user said it was a lesson in “how not to market a product”. The firm responded by saying: “Can't argue with that. Fully agree. Gonna have to fire the social media person again. We told her that she should have gone with the coronavirus joke, but she said this was less offensive.”

It later posted on Facebook: “We were just poking a little fun at the recent tweet by Donald Trump. Our Turbo Island Edition is 75% abv and should definitely not be drank as a shot. We only have a small following on social media, so the backlash was a bit of a surprise.

“Our intention was not to cause any offence, and we sincerely apologise for any offence caused, by adapting Donald Trump's Tweet.”

Two years ago, Bristol Gin launched a vodka called Novichok after Dawn Sturgess of Salisbury died in a Novichok poisoning scandal. It later apologised to her family and withdrew the vodka.

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