Is the High-Priced and Rare Bourbon You Are Buying Actually Counterfeit? Inside Edition Investigates

Inside Edition buys a bottle of thousand-dollar bourbon from America’s oldest wine shop and sends it to a famous distillery for testing.

Congress declared bourbon “America’s Native Spirit” in 1964 and it is currently more popular than ever with collectors and consumers, but experts say counterfeiters are cashing in on the popularity by selling bootleg bourbon.

Inside Edition’s Investigative team went to the experts to get tips on how you can tell if your booze is bogus.

Whiskey aficionado Adam Herz is a Hollywood writer-producer best known for creating the “American Pie” franchise but when he isn’t writing scripts, he is hunting down fake bourbon by scouring websites where he says empty bottles are often resold and bought by counterfeiters.

Herz and other experts say counterfeiters have taken empty bottles of high-end bourbon, filled them up with cheaper whiskey and then resold them for huge profits.

Herz says he's spoken to dozens of people who had no idea they had bought fakes. He says many counterfeiters are so good, some stores don't even realize they're selling them.

“Some stores are very smart about watching out for fakes, some stores don't know how to do it, some turn a blind eye,” he told Inside Edition.

So Inside Edition decided to go shopping and went to Acker, America’s oldest wine shop, in New York.

A salesperson showed an Inside Edition producer  what appeared to be a rare bottle of Colonel E.H. Taylor - Four Grain, which is a top of the line bourbon which they were selling for nearly $1,000.

“They get harder and harder to find,” the salesperson said.

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 packaging tube.

The bottle that was sold to Inside Edition was missing both the lot code and the tube. The salesperson at Acker assured Inside Edition of its authenticity.

“Is this the real deal?” asked an Inside Edition producer.

“Absolutely,” answered the salesman.

Inside Edition bought the bottle and then sent it to Buffalo Trace Distillery, where Medley and his team conducted a battery of tests.

Medley told Inside Edition that the bottle our producer purchased had what’s called a strip stamp on backwards. Medley also says that 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,” said Medley.

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.   

 Afterwards, Inside Edition spoke with a publicist for Acker who said Acker would be providing a comment, which Inside Edition has not received.

Mark Brown, who is the president and CEO of Sazerac who owns Buffalo Trace, the makers of E.H. Taylor, says they are more vigilant than ever about looking out for fakes.

“It needs to stop and we are going to do everything in our power to make sure it gets stopped,” he told Inside Edition.

Herz says it's buyer beware, telling Inside Edition, “You need to be careful because as soon as you think you're not going to get a fake, you'll get one.”

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