Australian teenager dies on 18th birthday after drinking high-strength spirit

Nicole Bicknell's family now want the high-strength drink banned

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An Australian teenager has died on her 18th birthday after drinking shots of a 95% alcohol strength spirit.

Nicole Bicknell collapsed after quickly drinking several shots of Spirytus Rektyfikowany, a Polish “rectified sprit” two weeks ago.

The teenager rarely drank alcohol and was said to be unaware of the dangers of taking shots of such a potent drink in quick succession.

She had drunk other mixed drinks over the course of the evening, according to her family, who are calling for the spirit to be banned in Australia.

Ms Bicknell is said to have been offered neat shorts of the drink by a male friend.

“I cannot see why alcohol so strong is sold in liquor stores,” the girl’s grandfather Kevin McLean told the Western Australian local newspaper The Sunday Times.

“No one needs to buy alcohol that strong. It should be taken off the shelves so this doesn’t happen to any other family. We want it banned Australia-wide and we would like to see it an offence to sell it.”

Her mother Belinda Bicknell said she was outraged that the drink had not been banned, despite a call to do so by the Australian Medical Association two years ago.

“It’s like anything, more deaths have to happen before things get done,” she said. “I just feel very angry right now.”

The alcohol has already been taken off the shelves as major off-licences in Australia at request of the family, though it is still available at independent retailers.

Spirytus rektyfikowany is widely available in Poland, where it is mainly used as an ingredient in home-made infusions and liqueurs.

Almost 300 people attended the teen’s funeral last Wednesday, in Thornlie, Western Australia.