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Joined: 10 Oct 2002
Posted: Wed Jan 01, 2003 6:21 pm Post subject: Fake Macallan
Regarding fake Whisky.
In Whisky Magazine No.28 Dave Broom writes apiece called “An old con” in which he writes:
......”Occasionally, however, some could be shown to be fake. Two such bottles were both supposedly from Macallan, one from 1872, the other from 1888 (sold at auction) and purporting to have been bottled by Stephen Smith & Co. Ltd. Once again the labels were remarkably unmarked and also complex. While there was a wine and spirit merchant called Stephen Smith (who did blend and bottle whisky and was at one time the owner of the largest vineyard in Australia), Companies House could find no record of it trading at this time, and trade journals could find no mention of the firm offering bottled, mature malt whisky. Still, it was possible that they had a few casks hidden away and decided to bottle it at a much later date. The label stated that the 1888 whisky was “produced and bottled by Roderick Kemp, Proprietors, Macallan and Talisker Distilleries Ltd”. The 1872, strangely, was “Selected by Proprietor R. Kemp, Macallan-Glenlivet and Talisker Distilleries Ltd”. There was no record of either firm in Companies House. That isn’t particularly surprising. Roderick Kemp had owned (or part-owned) both Macallan and Talisker distilleries, but not at the same time! He sold his interest in Talisker in 1892 and then used the money to buy Macallan. In 1898 Talisker merged with Dailuaine to form Dailuaine-Talisker Distilleries Ltd. At no point did he own both Talisker and Macallan. Kemp was a businessman. He wouldn’t put an illegal company name on his whisky. Neither would he have deviated from standard business practice and changed the name of his firm willy-nilly.”
Now to my concern. In “The definitive guide to buying vintage Macallan” page 92-93 The Macallan 1870 has the same text “Selected by Proprietor R. Kemp, Macallan-Glenlivet and Talisker Distilleries Ltd”.
Raises a few questions doesn’t it? Which one is out on deep water Dave or Macallan?
Or am I the one missing something here?
It seems that 5 pages of posts is all that the forum can handle, I posted a reply in regards to issue 33 and it never showed up. Here's my reply reconstructed as best I can remember. Issue 33 WM page 7 " Macallan tests ongoing" "The Macallan is conducting chemical analysis of various antique whiskies to prove conclusuvely whether they are genuine." Blah, Blah, it still does not address the issue of that pesky name "Macallan-Glenlivet & Talisker Distilleries Ltd" of which no record exists except on a few bottles of the 1879 distillation.
Perhaps Iain could edit his post to direct people here for the next 180 posts on the subject unless the original can carry more than 5 pages of posts.
And now that they don't own them, they can say that they can't test them, so they will not be able to determine if they are forgeries!
There is method in this corporate procrastination!
ps: The auction for the 1896 has now begun.
provokes the thought that perhaps the time has come for an industry body such as the Scotch Whisky Association - of which Highland Distillers, owners of the Macallan brand, are members - to get involved.
This sad and sorry saga could start to taint the whole industry - especially given the posting on this forum by Erik Huurman (aka The Macallan Man) which seemed to imply that other producers could need to justify their claims - and surely now needs decisive action from someone like the SWA.
Just compare the Macallan's reaction with the instant apology this website carries from Whisky Magazine about a possible misunderstanding in the latest issue. Now that is the way to deal with a problem!
"Simon Cottle : Simon inspected 95 bottles at the distillery, comprising our 19th and early 20th century archive. The following is extracted verbatim from his report :
“Of these bottles, I noted several varieties, the majority of which appear to have been made by Scottish bottle makers of the nineteenth century. 1848 and 1849 are of late 18th century manufacture. "
I don't have any details or knowledge of these 1848 and 1849 bottles. But I was slightly surprised(!) to learn that whisky supposedly distilled in those years was bottled (presumably some years later) in 18th century bottles. ie; bottles that were (much?) more than 50 years old.
Have the bottles been recycled?
"the majority of which appear to have been made by", does not sound to me to be something 100% solid. Especially the word "appear".
Lexkraai you as scientist have anything to mention about such wordings?
[This message has been edited by Jeroen Kloppenburg (edited 09 August 2003).]
The away I read that particular sentence was that the tests that were done provided no evidence against the bottles being of 19th century origin. That is something very different from proving that they are 19th century. In order to do that you would at least have to provide evidence that they are NOT 20th century. That evidence may exist, but is not presented in the article.
I think the Macallan could have done only 2 things in the situation they are in;
1: Continue the auction, but then put all evidence they have from their 2002 research, and all other information they have concerning the bottles in public, so the buyers could make a descision to buy or not to buy based on what the Macallan has themself.
2: Stop the auction, and wait till proper scientific proof is there to show the bottle are genuine.
Whatever happens from here, the Macallan will have lost a lot of good will from their clients, even when the bottles proof to be genuine in later research. And IMO thats only themself to blame due to poor communication, and lack of responce to customers who have a genuine concern over this otherwise top malt.
Really a shame.
As to possible ways of dating, carbon dating can be used on dating whisky, but not in the same way as is normally done. C14 doesn't decay fast enough to say anything over a period of decades (it is used for periods of 100s to 1000s of years). But the increase of C14 in the earth's atmosphere as a result of nuclear testing in the early 1950s can be picked up. I don't know which dating method(s) Macallan is using, but if they use carbon dating, the only thing they can say is whether the whisky is from before or after 1950 (in other words, they won't be able to put an actual age to it).
"Current Highest Bid: £6750.00"
It's uncanny (and no doubt gratifying to all those who dreamt up this excellent and totally honest and above-board pr stunt at Mac) to see that a bid matching the reserve price always seems to arrive just as the auction of yet another second-hand bottle of Mac is about to close.
[This message has been edited by Iain (edited 01 September 2003).]
But whatever radioactive isotope method Macallan will use, it appears that the only result that method will produce is to say whether we're dealing with pre-1945/50 whisky or youngert. It won't be able to show whether the whisky is really from the 19th century.
In the mean time, an anxious wait for the results to be made public .....
I have been experimenting with non invasive spectrographic detection methods (on whisky), I will ask my co collaborators whether there is anything we could do with these 'new cutting' edge techniques, we certainly can do alcohol % without opening the bottle! Are the older whiskies much different in alcohol?
a 'non-peaty' Laphroaig 'from the early twentieth century'.
I will rush off immediately to start a thread on McTear's auctions, where people can discuss the authenticity of non-peaty (maybe even non-salty?) vintage Laphroaig and anything else that attracts attention or suspicion at the upcoming McTear's auction...
"War" between two bidder's, the distillery themself (which is listed as "collectable"), and a "mystery celebrity", and a final price which is much lower then the initial expected record braking price.
All stuff that makes you go "Hmmmmm ...."
The sooner this collecting hype is over, the better for us, as consumers
At least Dalmore (who pulled this stunt last time) had more invention, claiming that Rod Stewart wanted to buy their second hand bottle. And I came up the Clyde on a banana boat...
Shame on you Kyndal, or whatever you have decided to call the company this week
Prices do seem to be falling. Perhaps the bubble has burst. Bad news for everyone who invested in second hand whiskies at the top of the market, better news for drinkers?
I have snipped the relevant section from the article written and published by the new WM editor Dominik on the mag pages.
So Dominik - can YOU tell us what "vintage" bottles have been tested and what is the proof of their authenticity? What does it say on the bottles? And how far back do the mists of time go - 1843? Earlier?
As you are a good investigative journalist with an eye for a news story I'm sure you didn't just go along to supply a soft and bland pr story for Mac, but took notes on what you saw at the home of Britain's most controversial collection of second hand bottles...
"To one side are the 19th century vintage bottles, many of them open, which The Macallan has bought back at auction to augment its collection.
The bottles, many labelled to show that they have been tested for authenticity, stretch back in to the mists of time and collectively make a striking impression."
"To one side are the 19th century vintage bottles, many of them open..."</B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
But I thought that "open serve" was a dreadful practice of dodgy pub landlords which resulted in sub-quality oxidised drams. Or does 19th-century whisky stand up to oxidisation better than our lily-livered 21st-century equivalent? I Think We Should Be Told.
It seems to me that the Macallan can make all sorts of claims - to Dominic Roscrow or anyone else - about any bottles and their contents that they DO NOT try to sell. In such cases, although there may be moral cosiderations that should inhibit the Macallan from making any claims they cannot or will not substantiate ( I know, I know, writing moral and Macallan in the same sentence stretches credulity to the limit ),
no consumer is getting hurt, even if a journalist's credibility is.
So to have any validity, The Macallan must test the bottles and their contents that they have sold/are selling/intend to sell.
It is just as simple as that, isn't it?
PS Anyone know what has happened to the Huurman?
Dominic is in Tennessee at the moment and I am sure he will pick up this thread on his return. In the meantime, rather than leave your questions unanswered, I thought I would offer my thoughts.
The piece says that the labels have been tested for authenticity. He doesn't say they are authentic. How could he? He is a journalist - not a scientist.
If memory serves, The Macallan were awaiting test results due sometime in September. When the results are shared with us, we will share them with you.
The quote Iain has posted has Dominic reporting that the labels stated that the bottles (and/or their contents) had been tested for authenticity.
This is straight forward and - no doubt -accurate reporting.
Dominic is not saying that the bottles or their contents were authentic, merely noting, as a good journalist would, that they were so labelled.
Let's not get the guys with the white hats tarred with the same brush as the guys with the black hats!
And remember that without Whisky Magazine, this forum would not exist - and that of all of the subjects which have been discussed with such interest and passion on this website, only the Macallan thread has really been about a negative aspect of the subject
Which is why, I suspect, it continues and continues to attract new postings so many months after it first started. When everything else is so good, it becomes really frustrating to have even one issue about widespread serious doubts unresolved.
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