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How to Spot Fake Bourbon: A Guide for Bourbon Lovers

thewhiskylady - 2023-11-13
What is Triple Distillation
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How to Spot Fake Bourbon

Bourbon is a type of American whiskey that has been around since the early 19th century. It is a beloved spirit that has a rich, complex flavor and is steeped in history and tradition. However, with its popularity comes the risk of counterfeit products. Fake bourbon is becoming increasingly common, and it can be difficult to spot the difference between the real thing and a counterfeit.

Knowing how to spot fake bourbon is essential for anyone who enjoys this spirit.

Understanding Bourbon Basics

Bourbon is a type of whiskey that is made primarily from corn. In order to be considered bourbon, the whiskey must meet certain legal requirements. These requirements include:

  • The whiskey must be made in the United States.
  • The mash bill (the mixture of grains used to make the whiskey) must contain at least 51% corn.
  • The whiskey must be aged in new, charred oak barrels.
  • The whiskey must be distilled to no more than 80% alcohol by volume (ABV).
  • The whiskey must be bottled at no less than 40% ABV.

Bourbon is known for its sweet and smooth taste, which is due in part to the high percentage of corn used in the mash bill. Other grains that may be used in the mash bill include rye, wheat, and barley.

When tasting bourbon, it is important to pay attention to its aroma, flavor, and finish. Aroma refers to the scent of the bourbon, which can be influenced by factors such as the aging process and the type of barrel used. Flavor refers to the taste of the bourbon, which can be influenced by factors such as the mash bill and the aging process. Finish refers to the aftertaste of the bourbon, which can be influenced by factors such as the alcohol content and the aging process.

How to Spot Fake Bourbonphoto credit: images.rawpixel.com

Identifying Genuine Bourbon Labels

A genuine bourbon label will have certain features that distinguish it from a counterfeit label. This section will highlight some of the key features of genuine bourbon labels.

Recognizing Label Regulations

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is responsible for regulating the labeling of distilled spirits in the United States. Genuine bourbon labels must comply with the TTB’s regulations. These regulations specify the information that must be included on the label, such as the name of the distillery, the type of bourbon, the proof, and the bottle size.

One of the easiest ways to spot a fake bourbon label is to look for spelling and grammatical errors. Genuine bourbon labels are meticulously crafted and rarely contain any mistakes. If you notice any misspelled words or grammatical errors, it is a clear indication that the product may be counterfeit.

Spotting Misleading Marketing Terms

Some bourbon labels may include marketing terms that are intended to mislead consumers. For example, a label may claim that the bourbon is “handcrafted” or “small-batch,” when in fact it was produced using automated processes on a large scale.

To avoid falling for these misleading marketing tactics, consumers should look for labels that provide specific information about the bourbon’s production process. For example, a label may indicate that the bourbon was aged for a certain number of years in charred oak barrels or that it was distilled using a specific type of still.

Examining the Bottle

Checking Bottle Seals

Legitimate bourbon bottles typically have a tamper-proof seal that is difficult to replicate. Counterfeiters may use a low-quality or poorly designed seal, or they may not use a seal at all.

Another thing to look out for is the placement of the seal. If it appears to be uneven or off-center, it could be a sign that the bottle has been tampered with. A seal that looks too perfect or too loose may also be a red flag.

Assessing the Color of the Bourbon

Real bourbon is aged in charred oak barrels, which gives it a distinct color and flavor. The color of the bourbon should be consistent throughout the bottle. If you notice any variations in color, it could be a sign that the bourbon has been diluted or altered in some way.

Another thing to look for is sediment or particles in the bottle. If you notice any floating particles or sediment, it could be a sign that the bourbon has been tampered with or is not genuine.

Tasting the Bourbon

By tasting the bourbon, one can recognize the authentic flavors and identify any fake aftertaste. Here are some tips on how to taste bourbon to spot any counterfeit products.

Recognizing Authentic Bourbon Flavors

Authentic bourbons have a unique flavor profile that distinguishes them from other spirits. When tasting bourbon, look for the following authentic flavors:

  • Sweetness: Bourbon has a sweet taste that comes from the corn used in the mash bill. The sweetness should be balanced with other flavors and not overpowering.
  • Vanilla: Bourbon is aged in oak barrels, which gives it a vanilla flavor. Look for a smooth and subtle vanilla taste.
  • Caramel: Bourbon also has a caramel flavor that comes from the barrel’s char and the aging process. The caramel taste should be distinct but not overwhelming.
  • Spice: Bourbon has a spicy flavor that comes from the rye or wheat used in the mash bill. The spice taste should be balanced and not overpowering.

Identifying Fake Bourbon Aftertaste

Fake bourbons often have a harsh aftertaste that can be a giveaway. Here are some signs of fake bourbon aftertaste:

  • Chemical taste: Fake bourbons often have a chemical taste due to the use of artificial flavorings.
  • Burn: Fake bourbons can have a harsh burn that lingers in the mouth and throat.
  • Bitterness: Fake bourbons can have a bitter aftertaste that is unpleasant and overpowering.

Price and Source Verification

Comparing Price Points

One of the easiest ways to spot a fake bourbon is to compare its price point to that of the genuine product. If a bottle of bourbon is priced significantly lower than the average market price, it could be a red flag that the product is counterfeit. However, it’s important to note that some retailers may offer discounts or promotions that could temporarily lower the price of a genuine product.

Evaluating the Retailer’s Credibility

Consumers should only purchase bourbon from reputable retailers that have a track record of selling genuine products.

To evaluate a retailer’s credibility, consumers can look for the following indicators:

  • Does the retailer have a physical storefront or website that looks professional and legitimate?
  • Does the retailer have a good reputation in the industry or among other consumers?
  • Does the retailer have a return policy or customer service department that can assist with any issues or concerns?

Consumers can also consult online reviews or forums to see if other customers have had positive experiences with a particular retailer. By doing their due diligence and only purchasing bourbon from credible retailers, consumers can reduce the risk of purchasing counterfeit products.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common signs of counterfeit bourbon?

There are several signs that can indicate a bottle of bourbon is counterfeit. These include spelling errors on the label, a dull label with a different font style, a unique duty stamp and barcode, an authentic but recycled bottle, a different texture and color, an unauthentic smell, and a burning sensation when consumed. Additionally, fake bourbon is often sold at an unbelievably cheap price.

How can you identify fake Blanton’s?

Blanton’s is a popular brand of bourbon, and as such, there are many counterfeit bottles in circulation. One way to identify a fake Blanton’s bottle is to check the label for spelling errors and inconsistencies. Additionally, the label on a genuine bottle of Blanton’s should be securely attached to the bottle. Finally, the bottle should have a unique glass pattern on the bottom that is difficult to replicate.

What are the distinguishing features of genuine Blanton’s Bourbon?

Genuine Blanton’s Bourbon has several distinguishing features. The label should include the name of the distillery, the type of bourbon, and the proof. The bottle should have a distinctive glass pattern on the bottom that is difficult to replicate. Finally, the cork should have the letters “B”, “L”, “A”, “N”, “T”, “O”, and “N”, with a horse and jockey on top.

What are Pappy laser codes and how can they help identify authentic bottles?

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve is a highly sought-after bourbon, and as such, there are many counterfeit bottles in circulation. One way to identify a genuine bottle of Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve is to look for a laser code on the bottle. This code is unique to each bottle and can be used to verify its authenticity.

Are there any reliable James Bourbon spot reviews to consult?

There are many online reviews of James Bourbon, but it is important to be cautious when using these reviews to make purchasing decisions. Some reviews may be biased or unreliable. It is always best to consult with a trusted expert or to purchase from a reputable seller to ensure the authenticity of the bottle.


To identify fake bourbon, pay close attention to several key factors. First, scrutinize the label for correct spelling and grammatical precision, as authentic bourbon labels are meticulously crafted and free of errors. Second, inspect the bottle, ensuring it’s made of quality glass, has a secure label attachment, and lacks a strange shape. Third, check the label for crucial details like the distillery name, bourbon type, and proof, while ensuring the presence of a registered trademark symbol. Finally, exercise caution when the bourbon’s price appears too good to be true, as high-quality bourbon is costly to produce; always opt for a reputable source to guarantee authenticity.

Related Posts

Here are some related posts that can help you learn more about bourbon and other types of whiskey:

  • Whisky, if you were a woman: This interesting post explores the gender debate surrounding whiskey and delves into the unique qualities of bourbon.
  • Want to know more Bourbon facts?: This post is a great resource for anyone looking to expand their knowledge of bourbon. It covers everything from the history of bourbon to the different types of bourbon available.
  • How English Whisky is Reconquering The World: English whisky is becoming increasingly popular, and this post explains why. It covers the history of English whisky and highlights some of the best English whiskies available.
  • Why you need to give French whisky a chance: This post explores the world of French whisky and explains why it’s worth trying. It covers the history of French whisky and highlights some of the best French whiskies available.
  • Where to enjoy a good dram in Dubaï?: If you’re in Dubai and looking for a great place to enjoy a dram of bourbon or other whiskey, this post is a great resource. It covers some of the best whiskey bars in Dubai and highlights their unique qualities.
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