Little about the composition of the powder, as well as the process occurring when mixed with water, has been revealed in news sources.
According to food chemist Udo Pollmer of the European Institute of Food and Nutrition Sciences in Munich, alcohol can be absorbed in cyclodextrines, a sugar derivate. In this way, encapsuled in small capsules, the fluid can be handled as a powder. The cyclodextrines can absorb an estimated 60 percent of their own weight in alcohol. Reportedly, a US patent has been registered for the process since 1969.
In the United States, according to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), alcohol powders which are intended for beverage use fall within the jurisdiction of both the federal government (TTB) and the state governments. Therefore, they are regulated the same as any other alcoholic beverage, require the same licensing approvals and are subject to the alcoholic beverage taxes.
Currently, alcohol powder which is unfit for beverage purposes is sold as a food flavouring in the United States.
There is some insecurity as to legal regulations in many other countries. According to some, alcohol laws would in general only apply to liquids. This would mean that powder-based alcoholic beverages could be sold to minors and that the powder would be exempt of alcohol tax. (See Netherlands below.)
Currently, Pulver Spirits and BPNC Distillery are developing a line of alcohol powder products which are scheduled to be released in 2007. The marketing is reportedly going to be in full compliance with alcohol regulations and targeted at adults of legal drinking age.
In Germany a product called Subyou reportedly was or is distributed on the internet. The product was available in four flavours and packed in 65 gram or possibly 100 gram sachets. When mixed with 0,25 litres of water it gives a drink with 4.8 % alcohol. It was assumed a German producer manufactured the alcopop powder based on imported raw alcohol powder from the US.
In the Netherlands the product Booz2go made its way to news headlines in May 2007. It will produce a bubbly, lime-coloured and lime-flavoured drink with 3 % alcohol when mixed with water. When put into commercial production, it is expected to sell for 1.50 euro ($2.00) for a 20 gram sachet. The product is marketed by four food technology students, Harm van Elderen, Martyn van Nierop and others at Helicon Vocational Institute in Boxtel. They said they are aiming at the youth market, and one advantage of the powder is it would be legal to sell to people under 16, the legal age of drinking in the Netherlands. They compared the drink to alcopops like Bacardi Breezer, and expect the relatively low alcohol content will be popular with the young segment.
Director Wim van Dalen of the Dutch National Foundation for Alcohol Prevention said the powder was not subject to the Alcohol and Horeca Code, but when dissolved in water it would be. This would mean that everyone could buy the powder. He said he generally did not support new alcoholic drinks, but doubted the powder would become attractive. A spokesman of the Ministry of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports said they would not undertake any actions against the product, but added that according to other laws the label must contain a warning about any health risks for the consumer.
- Alcohol powder: Alcopops from a bag, Westdeutsche Zeitung, 28 October 2004 (German)
- Instead of alcopops, dependency in bags is lurking, die tageszeitung, 10 November 2004 (German)
- Just add water - students invent alcohol powder Reuters, 6 June 2007
- Students make alcohol powder, Het Parool, 25 May 2007 (Dutch)