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Historic Wine Store Fined Big Time For Fake Bourbon Sales

A New York City wine store and auction house, which dates back more than 200 years, was dealt hefty fines recently to settle charges that they sold fake bottles of bourbon.

A report in the New York Post detailed the charges, the investigation, and that currently, no employees have been let go in the scandal.

Public records show that Acker Merrall Condit, the Upper West Side wine retailer, agreed to pay the penalty of $100,000 to the state of New York after regulators investigated and found inconsistent business practices regarding the sale of counterfeit bottles of Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain bourbon for a thousand bucks each.

counterfeit Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain
A New York City wine store and auction house, which dates back more than 200 years, was dealt hefty fines recently to settle charges that they sold fake bottles of bourbon. (image via Buffalo Trace)

Commissioners from the New York State Liquor Authority met on Feb. 1st and discussed the matter, which was first reported in 2021 with a news story from Inside Edition.

At the heart of the discussion was the fact that store employees bought the counterfeit bourbon from a private collector, even after warning signs that the lot wasn’t real E.H. Taylor.

During the Liquor Authority’s meeting, Acker Merrall’s lawyer, Kevin Danow, assured commissioners that the family-owned business was “taking responsibility” for what happened.

One of the commissioners, Vincent Bradley, told Acker’s attorneys present at the meeting that  “there was clear fraud here, or at least a large potential for fraud.”

According to the New York Post article, Bradley continued the discussion by saying store employees “were going out with their own money, buying from private collections and reselling it to the liquor store, but not telling the liquor store what they paid for it.”

It’s worth noting that Acker was fined for purchasing whiskey from “unauthorized” sellers on five occasions in 2020 and 2021 and for failing to keep the proper paperwork, public records show.

The bottles of counterfeit E.H. Taylor Four Grain were lab tested by the distiller (Buffalo Trace) and found to have missing lot codes, the wrong tube packaging, and a lower-quality bourbon inside.

It’s also worth noting that New York state’s alcohol laws do not allow individuals without permits to buy wine or spirits from a private collection, except if the alcohol is being purchased on behalf of a licensed business.

Information from the New York Post and  Inside Edition contributed to this report.

Gary Carter

Gary Carter has been at the helm of metro newspapers, magazines, and television news programs as well as a radio host and marketing manager. He is a writer/editor/photographer/designer by trade, with more than 30 years experience in the publishing and marketing field. Gary enjoys working to build something great, whether that be a novel project, a start-up, an organization, a fresh-face to the journalistic world, or even something as simple as a short story. A native Texan and a Pacific Northwest convert, he is a whiskey enthusiast who cut his teeth on it ... literally!

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