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That Expensive Bourbon You Bought May Be a Fake

That Expensive Bourbon You Bought May Be a Fake
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“I saw one set that was in all a fake,” she said, “and they were all collected 20 to 30 years ago.” “There are some really well-known fakes that are still emerging.”

Reliable statistics on the extent of the problem are difficult to obtain. Ms Graham-Yooll dismissed a 2018 study as hyperbolic claiming that up to a third of all rare single bottles of malt were counterfeit. But she acknowledged counterfeiting is a big problem and getting worse.

There is no shortage of tales like meeting Acker. In 2017, a Swiss hotel gave notice of the sale of the world’s most expensive drama to a Chinese tourist. Subsequent analysis of the liquid, allegedly single-malt Scotch made by the Macallan Distillery in 1878, showed that it was a blended Scotch made sometime after 1970.

Like the Acker bottle, the fake Macallan had flaws obvious to the expert eye: the wrong corks and modern glass. The field of counterfeiting is partly new, Herz said, and counterfeits aren’t hard to spot — drip spots on a paper label, for example, are a good indication that a bottle has been used before.

“Most people are lazy and impatient,” he said.

The whiskey trade has yet to see its version of Rudy Kurniawan, the prolific and highly skilled counterfeiter who rocked the wine world by being convicted in 2013 of making and selling millions of dollars’ worth of meticulously detailed fake burgundy and cabernet California.

But it may just be a matter of time. Experts say they have seen an increase in the quality of fakes; Mr. Herz suspects that at least a few counterfeiters have internal connections in Kentucky distilleries, allowing them to build fake bottles from scratch, with original labels and elaborate closures.

In response, a cottage industry emerged, especially in Britain, promising high-tech countermeasures such as chemical analysis through glass, which allows sellers and collectors to assess the authenticity of a bottle without having to open it. But those are still under development, and years away from their widespread use.

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