Counterfeits, duplicates, and fakes exist throughout the retail industry. It’s not just clothing, art, bags, and collectibles that are often faked. Bottles of whisky can also be counterfeited.
There is actually a whole world of fake whisky which has been unearthed. More and more fake whisky is being noticed in the market—not on regular shelves, but at rare whisky auctions.
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Many purchasers end up paying a fortune for nothing after their bottle was discovered to be fake. The Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre published that 21 out of 55 collectible bottles they had were proven fake.
It doesn’t stop there. In 2017, a bottle of Macallan 1878 was sold for £8,000 before further investigation showed that the bottle was a counterfeit.
Because of incidents like this, dedicated experts are hired to police auctions, and forensics to investigate bottles. After multiple occurrences, experts have concluded there are three ways a whisky can be counterfeited.
One way whisky is faked is through replicas. But how can you tell a fake whisky?
Older bottles of whisky like the thirty year-old Macallan have a different label than the ones produced today. These labels are often replicated to look like the original.
It’s easiest to spot a fake whisky replica because the label will give it away. Elements such as embossment or bronzing will look inauthentic if not printed using a good quality printer or applied expertly onto the bottle.
Despite the very apparent fake, some people still don’t know how to look out for irregularities in the label. They would end up paying up to £3,500 for a fake thirty-year old Macallan!
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On top of replicated labels, other counterfeiters will fake whisky by refilling and resealing old bottles.
It’s harder to spot refills because investigating would require opening the bottle in order to get a taste of the whisky inside. Of course, this can’t be done in an auction.
This particular kind of fake whisky is usually made by refilling the bottle with a variety of different liquids, as long as the color matches the original whisky as closely as possible.
Sometimes, it would even be refilled with cold tea! Imagine paying a fortune for tea!
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The material integrity of alcohol bottles will evolve overtime. People purchasing an antique bottle of whisky will expect the bottle to look pretty dated, but sometimes the bottles used isn’t as old as you think it is.
It’s not just the label and contents that can be faked—packaging can be faked too! A notorious case involving a 1903 Laphroaig proves this. The bottle was a relic, but the contents were actually a blended scotch.
Carbon dating showed that the fake whisky was only distilled recently, between 2007 to 2009! Still, the bottle sold for £100,000.
If you’re a whisky enthusiast and collector, it’s best to be sure of the product before purchasing. Beware of the many counterfeits out there, and be slow to decide on a price.
You wouldn’t want to end up bringing home a bottle of cold tea, or spending your savings on a whisky you could have purchased at the liquor store.
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