Inside the Strange World of Whiskey Scams

A growing and alarming phenomenon

Whiskey glass
How confident are you in the whiskey you're drinking?
Mathew Schwartz/Unsplash

There isn’t much out there that someone hasn’t used as the basis for some kind of scam. Counterfeit items and forged artwork are just the tip of the iceberg. But you’d think that there are some things that just don’t lend themselves well to scams — things like food and drink, for instance. But it turns out that the world of bourbon is as prone to scams as anything else — something that should set off alarm bells for those who appreciate a good glass of whiskey.

On a new episode of The Fred Minnick Show, spirits writer Fred Minnick ventured into the ongoing struggle against scams in the bourbon world. He notes that, since the pandemic began, a number of scammers have begun cropping up in the comments of Minnick’s Instagram, along with the Instagrams of other high-profile bourbon-related accounts, stating that they have copies of whatever rare bottle was in the spotlight, and offering to sell them. It probably goes without saying, but this is not an offer that’ll work out well for any prospective buyers.

Minnick says that “bourbon has caught up” to the rest of the world as far as an extensive and international presence of scammers looking to take advantage of the unwary. And he points out that this is in line with an even more alarming trend — that of people selling fake alcohol, which can cause significant health issues to those who drink it.

It’s an alarming development, albeit one that can largely avoided with some general rules of thumb — not buying from someone you’re not familiar with, for instance. In the full episode, Minnick also expounds on the full scope of the issue and offers some tips on ways to identify likely scammers from their Facebook presences. It’s a good set of information to have on hand.


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