The State Alcohol and Tobacco Company of Iceland (ÁTVR) has refused to sell Motörhead’s red wine on the grounds that the name of the band itself promotes the use of amphetamines and leading an unhealthy lifestyle.
The band lent its name and logo to a shiraz some time ago, and they have distributors across Europe. One country that will not be selling the wine, though, is Iceland. ÁTVR – a government-owned institution and the only legal outlet for the retail sale of alcohol – has refused to sell the Motörhead shiraz.
Hjörleifur Árnason, who wanted to import the wine, wrote an article for Vísir detailing his experience with trying to get permission to sell a trial case of the wine. After much back-and-forth with ÁTVR, permission for the sale of the wine was denied. The reason ÁTVR gave – ten months after being asked by the seller – was first and foremost “The name of the band is a reference to users of the illegal drug amphetamine, and the lyrics of the band’s songs are regularly about war, the abuse of power, irresponsible sexual activity and drug abuse.”
Hjörleifur believes the market should decide for itself – that customers will either buy the wine or not – and that the state should not be making moral judgement calls on what a wine is called. Adding to this, he points out that there is an Icelandic beer for sale called “Surtur” – referencing an old Norse god but also happening to be a very offensive word (albeit outdated and seldom used) for someone of African descent.
No word from Motörhead on their thoughts on ÁTVR’s decision were available at the time of this writing.