When is enough? Acker Merrall Condit, with a history of over 200 years in business, was recently exposed selling counterfeit bourbon. The company was selling counterfeit bottles of Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain bourbon.
Inside Edition aired an expose titled “Could Your Favorite Whiskey Be a Rebottled Fake?” Investigators went to Acker and asked for a “really nice bourbon.” The salesman suggested Colonel E.H. Taylor’s Four Grain, which he said was getting “harder and harder to find.” After paying the steep price of “nearly $1,000,” the reporters did further research, noticing red flags before even opening the bottle — the one they purchased lacked a lot code number and did not come in the special packaging tube — both trademarks of genuine Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain bourbon.
The television show then sent the bottle to Buffalo Trace, the distiller of the bourbon, to run a series of tests — where it was determined that the proof and chemical makeup of the bottle from Acker did not match the real thing. “We are sure that the liquid in the bottle is not ours,” Mark Brown, president and CEO of Sazerac, the parent company of Buffalo Trace, told Inside Edition during the episode.
Nearly a year and a half later, Acker is being fined for selling counterfeit bottles. Allegedly, Acker employees “were going out with their own money, buying from private collections and reselling it to the liquor store, but not telling the liquor store what they paid for it,” SLA commissioner Vincent Bradley told The New York Post.
Acker also revealed to the commissioner that it never learned what employees paid for the fake bourbon. Per the Post, Acker’s lawyer, Kevin Danow, also mentioned that “we believe Acker was targeted” but failed to elaborate.
Still, Acker voluntarily chose to pay a fine of $100,000 to settle the charges — well above average for SLA fines, which typically fall between $2,000 and $10,000.