America’s Oldest Wine Store Caught Selling a Counterfeit $1,000 Bourbon

One giveaway? The bottle usually sells for three times as much.

a man drinking whiskey with his wallet open
A NY wine store recently sold a counterfeit bourbon for $1000
Katarzyna Bialasiewicz / Getty Images

(UPDATED 5/10 with a statement from Acker Wines)

In a rather disheartening investigation for whiskey lovers, Inside Edition — still a thing — bought a $1,000 bourbon from America’s oldest wine store, only to discover it was counterfeit … which is, sadly, a fairly common occurrence.

Worse: this is not the first time this has happened at New York’s Acker Wines, which started as a package store in 1820 (and apparently now is also dealing in Burgundy wine NFTs).

According to IE, a salesperson sold a show producer a bottle of Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain Bourbon, which is produced at Buffalo Trace Distillery. But this bottle — which is currently $3,300 on Caskers — was missing its lot code and special packaging tube. The forgery was discovered after the show’s investigative team shared the information with Buffalo Trace’s technical director John Medley.

Colonel EH Taylor Four Grain bourbon - normally around $3300 in a store
A bottle of Colonel EH Taylor Four Grain bourbon

When the store was confronted, a manager told an Inside Edition staffer the bottle was “fine” and refused further comment; a promised follow-up comment via the store’s publicist had also not happened by press time.

As VinePair reminds us, Acker Wines also ran into issues in 2016 after being affiliated with Rudy Kurniawan, who posed as a wine dealer and moved two sizable (and fake) lots of wine through Acker; the incident was later the subject of the 2016 true-crime documentary Sour Grapes.

After publishing last Thursday, Acker Wines sent us the following statement: “

A few months before we were contacted by Inside Edition, we became aware of a possible authentication issue with a select bottling of Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain Bourbon that we obtained from a private collector. After an immediate investigation into the authenticity of the bottles, including contacting the parent company of E.H. Taylor, Sazerac, our concerns were not alleviated, and we removed all of the bottles from our shelves and ceased all business with the providing collector. We immediately contacted and refunded all of the customers who had purchased bottles before our recall, save for one buyer who declined to provide his contact information. We now believe this was the bottle behind the Inside Edition story.

We are committed to delivering the very best in fine and rare wine and spirits to our clients, and the authenticity of our products is paramount. We recently announced the launch of our global spirits division which included hiring US and Asia heads, and have also invested in authentication practices through the retention of multiple, well-respected, independent spirits authenticators.

If you’re worried about this forgery happening to you, take this advice from Whisky Advocate: feel around the tax strip to see if it was recently replaced, check the fill level, use a magnifying glass to check the printing on the bottle for pixelation, double-check with sources online to see if the bottle and the printings match historical records and look closely for obvious mistakes — the bourbon bottle at Acker, for example, had a strip stamp placed on backward.


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