Van Winkles, Buffalo Trace Help Take Down Bourbon Counterfeiter

In the world of high end collectible whiskey, it is not all that uncommon for unscrupulous individuals to attempt to pass off counterfeit bottlings which do not contain the actual Scotch or bourbon they are supposed to. It is something which can in part tarnish the legitimate reputation of those brands behind the real whiskies, and it is something that the Van Winkle family and Buffalo Trace have now stepped up their game in helping to fight.

According to information put out today by Buffalo Trace, the Van Winkles and them have taken action and successfully provided evidence of counterfeiting which resulted in a resident of New York pleading guilty for his sale of two bottles of counterfeit Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, which sold for $1,500 last year. The defendant will be sentenced in January 2018.

counterfeit bourbon

image via Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery

Although this case is the first successful prosecution for counterfeit Van Winkle Bourbon to date, other cases are under investigation. Buffalo Trace Distillery has spent over a half million dollars over the past year alone, to curb online marketplaces potentially selling fake bottles.

“Sadly, the Van Winkle bourbons are the latest victim of counterfeiting where innocent consumers are duped,” said Mark Brown, president and chief executive officer, Buffalo Trace Distillery, in a prepared statement. “Avoid buying any bourbon or whiskey, especially the highly sought after ones, from anyone in the secondary market, which includes online private sellers, or in these social media groups that claim to offer genuine products.  The only legal and reputable source you should be buying from is a licensed retailer.”

If you are wondering how it is bourbon can be passed off as counterfeit these days scam artists, noted the distillery, have been operating in a variety of ways, some of which include taking empty Van Winkle bottles and refilling them with a variety of other liquids, sometimes cheaper bourbons, sometimes mixtures of products only known to the deceiver.

Con artists are also said to have gotten more sophisticated with the ability to print counterfeit labels on home printers and other technological advances. If you see a bottle that does not have a matching face label with a capsule on top with the proper corresponding color, that’s likely a sign of fraud.

About the author

Nino Marchetti

As the founder of The Whiskey Wash, I'm crazy about whiskey, I can tell you, and I aim to share this passion with you through this site. As for my professional background, I’m a writer and journalist by trade and an Internet dot-com veteran prior to that. My most recent venture prior to this was as the founder and editor-in-chief of EarthTechling, a leading consumer focused green technology news website. I also have an extensive collection of whiskies from both start up distilleries and centuries old operations in Scotland alike, sprinkled with some other odds and ends from around the world, that have provided me with a unique picture of what’s going on with this wonderful spirit.

  • SafeProof.org

    This is an important win. Fake and counterfeit alcohol is not in the public eye here in the states. Not only are exclusive labels at risk, many top shelf liquor bottles are also victims of refilling and misrepresenting. Please report violations to SafeProof.org and use the map to check establishments that have been fined by your states liquor enforcement. We applaud the distillery for providing resources for this prosecution. Cheers!