For years, whiskey drinkers have sought out W.L. Weller — with InsideHook’s Kirk Miller noting that demand for Weller 12 has escalated recently, with the effect that “secondary-market pricing for that has skyrocketed.” Unfortunately, there’s something else that can accompany bourbon for which there is high demand and limited supply — counterfeiting.
As Nicolette Baker reports for VinePair, Sazerac — the parent company of W.L. Weller — recently won a legal victory over an online seller who had duplicated W.L. Weller’s packaging and selling something purported to be their bourbon online.
Specifically, the seller, Allocated Liquor LLC, was selling airline bottles of W.L. Weller. This drew them some unwanted attention when, as per the legal filing, someone who had seen this online wrote in to W.L. Weller to ask where they could buy more of the airline-sized bottles.
Here’s the problem: Sazerac doesn’t actually make airline-sized bottles of W.L. Weller. Allocated’s response was that they had purchased the miniature bottles from an Etsy seller; in response to an inquiry from Sazerac, they subsequently stopped selling the tiny bottles online.
Did Oregon State Officials Hoard Rare Bourbon Bottles?A state agency may have amassed some rare Pappy for personal gain
The lawsuit was decided in Sazerac’s favor, though it was for less than they had sought in damages. In their filing, Sazerac stated their goal of getting “between $20,000 and $100,000 per counterfeit mark.” In the end, they were awarded a total of $30,000 — or $15,000 for each of two counterfeit marks.
In his decision, U.S. District Court Judge Otis D. Wright II pointed out that Allocated had been responsive to Sazerac’s initial complaint. “Allocated’s prompt corrective action indicates it took Sazerac’s Cease-and-Desist Letter seriously, ” Judge Wright wrote. “The damages awarded should therefore also account for Allocated’s prompt corrective action.”
The case is also a good reminder to anyone making a purchase on the secondary market: make sure that the whiskey you’re buying actually exists in the quantity that you’re buying it in.
Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.