Fake Whiskey and the Secondary Booze Market

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The Robb Report has a feature article on the uptick in counterfeit booze and how to spot fake spirits. Among other things, the piece discusses the lack of a legalized secondary booze market and the role this plays in driving counterfeit booze sales:

Both Simpson and Graham-Yooll urge that the best way for collectors to protect themselves is by going through reputable auction sites or brokers, who often guarantee their sales and reimburse buyers in the case of fraud. That’s more difficult in the States, however, where there is almost no legitimate market for rare whiskey sales. The so-called three-tier system under U.S. law prohibits private alcohol sales, requiring that a distributor act as a middleman between brands and customers. A few auction houses, such as Skinner in Boston and Hart Davis Hart in Chicago, sell a few hundred bottles of bourbon between them, and some businesses such as Soutirage, a “fine and rare wine retail and lifestyle company,” aid clients in sourcing whiskies at a premium.

Most sales, however, take place in an Internet underground through sites like Craigslist or closed Facebook groups, where members post pictures of bottles and hold auctions in the comments or trade bottles with one another. “The vast majority of sales that happen in the United States are not legal,” says Josh Feldman, a whiskey blogger at the Coopered Tot. “In the absence of legal avenues, there is a vibrant, illegal secondary market. That helps create the environment in which counterfeits can thrive.” …

Read the whole piece here.

Whiskey writer Chuck Cowdery and R Street’s Kevin Kosar have written about the benefits of freeing up secondary booze markets (here and here)..