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Scotches worth £850,000 ruled fake
Published:  09 December, 2016

Rare Whisky 101 claims to have unearthed a valuable haul of forged rare scotch malt whisky, which indicates that professional fraud is more commonplace than previously thought.

The haul included a fake bottle of Laphroaig 1903, potentially worth £100,000, and two fake part sets of Macallan Fine and Rare, one worth around £500,000 and the other worth around £250,000.

Purchased at auction by Rare Whisky 101 – a leading whisky analyst, broker and investment expert - in 2015, the bottle of Laphroaig 1903 was subjected to a six-month long series of forensic tests, including glass dating, cork and capsule assessment, organoleptic assessment of the liquid, analysis of peat derived compounds and carbon dating at Oxford University.

Results from Oxford University’s Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit suggested a 75% chance that the liquid (a blended scotch) was created between 2007 and 2009, more than 100 years after its suggested label date.

 RW101 co-founder Andy Simpson explains: This experiment was a first for us, a chance to try and prove the provenance of a bottle of single malt Scotch which purported to be amongst the oldest surviving bottles in the world. We had our suspicions from the start, but the forensic testing has enabled us to examine each and every component. Despite a very convincing aesthetic, our bottle, which had been circulating at auctions for a good few years, was most certainly a fake and quite possibly the most expensive young blended scotch in the world! This result, whilst personally disappointing, goes to show that we’re really dealing with some top class imitations.”

As the rare whisky market continues to experience dynamic growth in volume and value it is forecast that the UK Whisky Auction market will trade around 55,000 bottles and turn over around £12,000,000 in 2016. 

The discovery leads to concerns over the authenticity of rare old whisky currently on sale throughout the worldwide auction market.

RW101 co-founder David Robertson added: “The risk for the market is that we’re seeing an increasing number of old, rare archive or antique bottles coming to market, and it’s very difficult for the untrained eye to verify authenticity. Our Laphroaig 1903 would seem to suggest that there are now some very good quality fakes which have been recently created to fool unsuspecting connoisseurs, collectors and investors into parting with serious money. Indeed, the forgeries that we’ve uncovered could be just the tip of the iceberg. So our message to whisky fans is buyers beware! Don’t take the chance to acquire rare, old, antique looking whisky unless you can be 100% sure of its provenance.”