Crime of the century: Fake rare Scotch makes a name for itself
Happy New Year! We have some bad news. Sean Connery wearing a hairpiecein all those James Bond movies is one thing, but faux vintage Scotch? The BBC lays out a harrowing tale: scientists recently performed radiocarbon dating tests on 55 rare bottles of single malt—only to find that a third of them were fakes or not distilled in the stated year.
Sign o’ the times
Broker Rare Whisky 101 ordered the tests, which took a small sample via the cork of each purported rarity. “We’ve come across bottles that were meant to be from the 1850s, and clearly they weren’t,” co-founder Andy Simpson tells the Beeb. “The liquor was dated to around the 1980s.” So, more Prince than Prince Albert.
About $51 million* worth of rare Scotch now on the secondary market and sitting in collections is fake, RW101 reckons, more than the whole British auction trade. The takeaway, says Simpson’s business partner, David Robertson: assume that every so-called rare bottle is fake until proven otherwise. Robertson expects more shamming: “The exploding demand for rare whisky is inevitably attracting rogue elements to the sector.”
*All prices in U.S. dollars
Time to let Ol’ Painless out of the bag: Predator gets its own bourbon
We once visited the set of the 1987 sci-fi shoot-’em-up Predator in the Mexican jungle, where thankfully the men in army fatigues were just there to serve us lunch. If you’d rather “get to the chopper” in the comfort of home, Dutch Bourbon Whiskey should do the trick. This officially licensed offering, hatched by Fox Studios and Silver Screen Bottling Co., bears the catchphrase gargled by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Maj. Alan (Dutch) Schaefer on its label.
Tasting notes? “Filling a glass, the aroma digs in like an Alabama tick,” Silver Screen suggests in another homage, leaving no modifier undangled. Oh, and we hear Dutch Bourbon will make you a goddamn sexual Tyrannosaurus.
Oh, Canada: Crown Royal or no, where do we start with this guy?
With U.S.-Canada relations lower than a snake’s belly, Yianny Georgopoulous isn’t helping mend fences. This week, Vice reports, a Secret Service agent nabbed the Canadian man outside the White House. Georgopoulous was allegedly moving a security barrier so he could visit Donald Trump. His mission: gather intel from the President on how to find a wife. For real.
In what would be an equally strange gift, the Canuck allegedly brought along two bottles of Crown Royal from his homeland. Even if he’d come bearing Northern Harvest Rye—named 2016 World Whisky of the Year by Jim Murray—the teetotalling Commander-in-Chief is a Diet Coke man. Covfefe!
Living on the edge in India
If you think Georgopoulous has problems, consider the case of Armaan Kohli. The Indian actor recently found himself behind bars (and not the good kind) for having too many bottles of Scotch at home. Kohli was way above the legal limit of 12, according to India Today, with 41 to his name. World’s largest democracy, we’re talking to you: there ought not to be a law.
Back to basics: How to size up a bottle of Scotch
Feeling first-date nervous about shopping for Scotch? Here comes Forbes.com’s Felipe Schrieberg with seven things to look for in a bottle. Tilted to noobs, it’s a useful list. Question No. 1: Is there an age statement? If not, you might still be in for a treat. But as a rule of thumb, Schrieberg says, favor a bottle identifying its contents as at least 10 years old. (And see above.)
Other key queries include alcohol strength, keeping in mind that anything 51%-plus is cask strength—bottled without extra water. And if you’re wondering whether a Scotch is artificially colored, chances are yes, unless the label says otherwise. Not that there’s anything wrong with a little caramel.
Whiskey in 2019: How old do you think I am?
To ring in the new year, Schrieberg’s colleague George Koutsakis takes a stab at what’s in store for whiskey in 2019. At the top of his list is—bummer—more discontinuations of popular aged issuances by Japanese distillers such as Nikka and Suntory.
On a brighter note, Koutsakis thinks this could be a good year for no-age-statement (NAS) whiskies. (Again, see above.) He cites feverish demand for Suntory’s 30th anniversary bottling of Hibiki Japanese Harmony: “All it took was a different bottle and label, and fans were hooked.” Last time we checked, that number was all yours for $299.99 at Beverly Hills Liquor & Wine.