Police Raid Illegal Bottling Plant Producing Counterfeit, Unsafe Johnnie Walker Whisky
Police officers in Russia last week raided an underground bottling plant near Moscow that was found to have been producing cases of counterfeit rum, cognac and whisky, including Johnnie Walker Black Label, The Herald reported.
Police determined the booze they recovered to be unsafe to drink. Russia’s Interior Ministry released a video of an officer inspecting a Johnnie Walker bottle containing black, oily bubbles.
“Officers during an inspection found and seized more than 3000 bottles of alcohol and two tonnes of spirit, as well as accessories and empty bottles with labels from well-known brands,” said Tatyana Petrova, head of the Interior Ministry’s press office for the area.
Two workers — both from an unnamed Central Asian country — were found at the scene and arrested.
Petrova said the factory was bottling but not distilling spirits.
Johnnie Walker has become scarcer in Russia since its parent company, Diageo, stopped exporting to Russia last year following the nation’s invasion of Ukraine. However, it was reported in November that Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a “secret deal” to smuggle alcohol like Johnnie Walker into Russia using a system called “parallel imports,” aka “the gray market.”
The production and sale of counterfeit, often unsafe alcohol is a significant problem worldwide. In June, the Scotch Whisky Association registered “Scotch Whisky” as a certification trademark in the U.S. in an effort to make it more difficult to sell counterfeit scotch.
In December 2021, Scottish police raided an industrial unit and discovered distilling equipment and about 12,000 liters of counterfeit liquor. That same month, Scottish food safety authorities warned shoppers to be wary of counterfeit alcohol sales, explaining that drinking cheap, fake products is “a huge risk to health, and in the worst case scenario, counterfeit alcohol can cause death.”
In the U.S., empty bottles of whiskey sell for hundreds of dollars on sites such as eBay to counterfeiters who fill them with cheap booze.
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