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Unmask: Spot the Counterfeit

May 29, 2018 by Jon-jon Bauyon


In this modern day, almost anything is possible. Too many smart people, too many fraud incidents. Ever heard of the Chinese guy who went to Switzerland and visited the Devil's Place of Waldhaus Am See in St. Moritz, "home to the world's largest whisky collection"? Apparently, the guy has paid a whooping 7,700 British Pounds or around 14,300 Singapore Dollars per dram. One of the most expensive whisky dram that was ever sold. Everyone was so excited and thought that was really an extremely rare Macallan 1878. Fast forward, after sending a sample to the experts, it turns out to be fake and in fact distilled somewhere around 1970 to 1972 based on the findings. 

Rare Whisky 101, the whisky brokerage headed by Andy Simpson and David Robertson in cooperation with the Hotel Manager Sandro Bernasconi flew a sample to UK for a series of forensic tests and analysis. The liquid was then subjected to carbon dating in the University of Oxford. Result shows that a 95% probability that the liquid is a blended whisky and was only distilled on 1970s. 

Mr. Bernasconi then flew to Asia and personally handed over the refund to the Chinese client. "When it comes to selling our customers some of the world's rarest and oldest whiskies, we felt it was our duty to ensure that our stock is 100% authentic and the real deal. That's why we called in RW101. The result has been a big shock to the system, and we are delighted to have repaid our customer in full as a gesture of goodwill", he said. 

On the other hand, Ken Grier from The Macallan brand owner Edrington commented: "As the leading brand in the fast growing secondary market for rare whiskies, with an estimated 30% share by value, we take this very seriously. We praise the work that our partners, RW101, are doing to bring awareness of any fraud to light. We would urge consumers to buy from reputable sources at all times".



In comparison with wine counterfeit cases, whisky is still in a small percentage, however it is growing rapidly. The vast majority of fake are Scotch single malts from The Macallan, Ardbeg, Bowmore, The Glenlivet, Glenmorangie and Laphroiag. Whereas in the US, Buffalo Trace distillery is having the same issue with their Van Wrinkle range. Nowadays, there are plenty of sites that sells empty bottles and once it's in the hands of the geniuses, what they'll do is just refill the bottle with something else, make it look old, use old cork and real label, and the thousand bottle whisky is ready! To avoid being victimize, always buy from a trusted and reputable sources, simple! 



Here are the key points to avoid getting stung:

1. Buy from the sources with established and solid track record. 

2. Research, research, research. Make sure that the distillery is really distilling on that year. Check the label if it is really available on that era. 

3. Ask the seller for photographs or if possible, view the bottle personally and compare it to the authentic sample. Check the spellings on the label, make sure it's all correct. 

4. Check the price. If it's too good to be true, then think again. 

5. Get expert advice.


Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.

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