SHOULD THE opportunity arise to taste a rare and coveted dram of 1878 Macallan it’s best to make sure it’s the real deal. A Chinese tourist recently made news when he dropped a cool $91OO for a glass of the legendary Scotch at the Hotel Waldhaus am See in Switzerland only to learn that the bottle was most likely a fake, part of a batch initially uncovered several years ago. Several whisky experts have pointed out that the bottle is very likely from a run of infamous knock-offs that were produced in Italy some years ago as the Scotch mania began to gather momentum. A number of remarkably similar bottles were scooped up by The Macallan itself in the early 2OOOs to bolster its old library stock but subsequent tests revealed the whiskies to be fake with the spirit inside probably no older than 1O years or so.
The possible provenance of the bottle was brought up on one site called Whiskyfun, run by the experienced collector Serge Valentin. Among the notable “tells” to send up a red flag is the condition of the label which is too new for such a rarity and the cork doesn’t look like one that has actually spent over 1OO years in a bottle neck. These markers are similar when it comes to spotting fake rare wine. Another crucial detail is that the label claims that the Speyside malt is guaranteed by “Roderick Kemp, proprietor, Macallan and Talisker Distilleries Ltd.” Kemp did indeed own both The Macallan and Talisker in the late 19th century but never at the same time.
The manager of the hotel, Sandro Bernasconi, whose father built a large Scotch collection that is the basis of the hotel’s famous whisky bar, has expressed dismay at the news and promised to send the whisky for verification and refund the buyer of the dram if the bottle proves to be counterfeit. Something that perhaps ought to have been done at the time of purchase. The whisky is apparently to be sent to a laboratory in Scotland for tests, with the results expected in the near future. Hopefully the man will get his money back not to mention a dram of the real stuff . . . on the house.