Credit: Hollywood in Kodachrome
Credit: Hollywood in Kodachrome

Crime of the century: Fake rare Scotch makes a name for itself

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Happy New Year! We have some bad news. Sean Connery wearing a hairpiece in 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

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