Since the dawn of time, humanity has constantly strived to enjoy life to the fullest without suffering any of its attendant consequences. There’s why there’s a whole market for hangover cures that let you drink the night away without the next morning’s anguish. But can a spirit brand that’s teamed up with an Indian pharmaceutical magnate truly create a “safer” vodka that lets one imbibe without suffering any long-term liver damage? The federal government isn’t too sure.
If Secaucus, New Jersey distiller Bellion has its way, liquor stores across the country will soon be stocked with spirits that you can sip on without destroying your liver. As the story goes, Bellion’s liver-saving formula is the product of a twelve year, $35 million research project led by Harsha Chigurupati. Dubbed “NTX”, the compound supposedly blends potassium sorbate, glycyrrhizin and a licorice root based anti-inflammatory called mannitol, and is infused into Bellion’s beverages after distilling is complete. In clinical trials, lab rats who consumed NTX-infused vodka exhibited 40 to 70% less biomarkers associated with liver damage. Human trials that followed showed similarly positive results.
Despite those positive early indicators, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) doesn’t want Chigurupati and his partners at Bellion to market their spirits as “safer” because it would dupe consumers into thinking that NTX-infused drinks “will protect consumers from certain serious health risks.” The only concession the TTB would make is that Bellion can market their products as “Made with NTX”, which somehow manages to sound even sketchier than saying nothing at all.
Still, the TTB can’t forbid Bellion from selling its vodka altogether. It’s currently available in 11 states, and they’re eyeing aggressive, nationwide expansion for 2018. Tequila, Gin and Bourbon with NXT are also in the works. Long-term studies analyzing potential side effects of consuming NXT in alcohol are still forthcoming, but you can bet that some consumers would gladly toast to their newfound liver health no matter what those may be.