Before you drain your pockets on that rare scotch or single malt, you might want to think twice as there is a chance that it might be fake. Whisky piracy is a problem on the rise and according to Rare Whisky 101, is seen ‘pretty much weekly’. The vast majority of fakes are still Scotch single malts: The Macallan, Ardbeg, Glenmorangie, Laphroaig, Bowmore, The Glenlivet, but collectable Japanese and American whiskies are now being impersonated, too. With the price of premium malts ranging from $400 to $87000, it’s clear that whiskey has become a lucrative business and with that has come a growing counterfeit market.
“You still only see one fake in very thousand bottles or so, but the best ones can be very sophisticated,” says The Whisky Exchange founder Sukhinder Singh. “It is flawless in every respect except for the foil on the neck, which is the wrong colour.” Many bogus whiskies are modern-day replicas that have been made to look like their older versions, and these are the easiest to spot. There are also those that are a blend of real and fake, making them much more difficult to authenticate. “You get people taking original bottles or old glass from 100 years ago and refilling them and sealing them with old corks and real labels they’ve bought from collections on eBay,” says Singh.
To avoid getting sucked into a scam:
Only ever buy from an auction house, broker or retailer with an established track record in fine and rare whisky.
Do your research. Was the distillery actually distilling in that year? What did its packaging look like in that era? Is it a whisky that has been faked before? Rare Whisky 101 provide their clients with a list of whiskies never to bid against.
The internet means bargain buys and never been seen before bottles. If it is genuine, collectors will be aware of it already.