INSIDE EDITION INVESTIGATION:
IS YOUR BOOZE BOGUS?
BUYER BEWARE? EXPERTS SAY BUYERS OF HIGH-END ALCOHOL MAY NOT KNOW THEY’RE PURCHASING FAKES. INSIDE EDITION BUYS A BOTTLE OF THOUSAND-DOLLAR BOURBON FROM AMERICA’S OLDEST WINE SHOP AND SENDS IT TO A FAMOUS DISTILLERY FOR TESTING.
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New York, NY – May 3, 2021 – Americans love their whiskey, especially bourbon, but could your favorite barrel-aged bourbon be a fake? Experts say counterfeiters have cashed in on the popularity of whiskey by reselling inferior bourbon. In an investigation airing on Monday, INSIDE EDITION’s Les Trent investigates if the booze you’re buying is bogus.
Adam Herz is a Hollywood writer-producer best known for creating the American Pie franchise. When he’s not writing scripts, he’s hunting down fakes by scouring online sites for empty bottles that he says are often bought by counterfeiters, refilled and then resold. He estimates there are thousands of bogus bottles on the market.
“You don’t need to be a master con to pull this off,” Herz tells INSIDE EDITION. “I’ve seen suburban dads counterfeiting just for an extra buck.”
Herz says he’s spoken to dozens of people who had no idea they’d bought fakes. Herz added, “Some stores are very smart about watching out for fakes, some stores don't know how to do it, some turn a blind eye.” So INSIDE EDITON went shopping.
INSIDE EDITION’s Investigative Unit visited Acker, America’s oldest wine shop, where a salesman showed our producers what appeared to be a rare bottle of Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain – a bourbon with a price tag of nearly a thousand dollars.
E.H. Taylor is produced at the famous Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, where 95% of the world’s bourbon is made. Buffalo Trace’s technical director, John Medley, says all their bottles come with a specific lot code, as well as a special packing tube.
The bottle INSIDE EDITION bought was missing both its lot code and tube but the salesperson at Acker assured INSIDE EDITION’s producers of its authenticity.
“Is this the real deal?” asked an INSIDE EDITION producer.
“Absolutely,” answered the salesman.
INSIDE EDITION bought the bottle and shipped it to Buffalo Trace Distillery, which is owned by Sazerac, where a battery of tests were conducted. They say their tests revealed that the bottle’s strip stamp was on backwards and a chemical analysis found the proof didn’t match their product.
“Based on all of the testing and observations we completed, I do not believe this bottle is authentic,” Medley told INSIDE EDITION.
INSIDE EDITION’s Les Trent took the bottle back to Acker and attempted to speak to a manager outside.
“We bought this bottle here,” said Trent. “I want to ask you about this bottle.”
The manager replied, “That is totally fine [apparently in reference to the bottle] and this is not okay [apparently in reference to INSIDE EDITION’s question]” and then went back inside the store.
Whiskey expert Adam Herz says it’s buyer beware.
“You need to be careful because as soon as you think you’re not going to get a fake, you’ll get one,” says Herz.
Afterwards, INSIDE EDITION spoke with a publicist for Acker who said Acker would be providing a comment, which INSIDE EDITION has not received.
For INSIDE EDITION’s full report, tune in on Monday, May 3rd. Check local listings for times and stations in your area.
INSIDE EDITION is produced daily by Inside Edition Inc. and distributed by CBS Media Ventures.
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Executive Director, Publicity