War on whisky fakers

War on whisky fakers

Rob Allanson

29 February 2008

Publication: Issue 70

http://www.whiskyfun.com/war.htmlHaving been duped, he began to dig a little deeper. On e-Bay he discovered a faker’s paradise where you can buy old bottles, old labels, even capsules and empty cartons, sometimes empty bottles of Macallan Gran Reserva with box. There’s nothing illegal about this, but when the same people who buy these items then miraculously discover a full bottle of, say, Talisker ‘Robert Watson’ the scent of rat assails the nostrils. The faking can be as crude as repainting a capsule or highly sophisticated.Labels can be laser copied, tax stamps produced, stains can be added. All that’s needed is an empty bottle, and with full bottles selling for very little money on e-Bay, that’s hardly a problem. Valentin has now coopted five other experts onto a ‘War Cabinet’ and anyone worried about a potential purchase can contact them on waronfakewhiskies@gmail.com.In less than a fortnight his blog’s ‘War Pages’ received 23,500 visits.In addition, 35 bottles have been examined with many more questions and requests received.At the time of writing, 30 whisky websites and blogs have links to the ‘War Pages’.Serge has now written to the owners of the leading collectable brands: Springbank, Macallan, Bowmore, Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Gordon & MacPhail asking them what they are doing in a practical way to stop this trade.Those who have replied at the time of writing, have expressed their concern and Springbank has offered help to any potential customer who needs advice and is advertising the war on its website. Macallan too has promised to make it easier for concerned collectors to contact them through their website.Ardbeg while saying that it was concerned felt that “if any suspect bottlings were brought to our attention we would take this seriously and together with the Scotch Whisky Association. [We] have a number of methods to validate the authenticity of all of our bottlings...This allows us...to validate any suspect bottling.” Sadly, it is happening and the worrying element is that the industry has yet to appreciate the extent of this problem. What was once a market comprising wellmade Italian fakes (some of which still surface) is now an industry filled with “cut and shunt” bottles and while the majority of the attention is focused on e-Bay, auction houses are not exempt.As the malt whisky market expands and new punters are drawn into the realm of rarities, so the inexperienced (and even the experienced) are exposed to unscrupulous fakers. The industry and the auction houses now need to act in a proactive rather than reactive fashion to help stop this.Until then, the advice is don’t buy until you have checked the bottle with the War on Whisky Fakers ‘Cabinet’ and the distiller.

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