In recent news, South African police recently busted a bootleg vodka operation in Durban, on the East coast of South Africa. The counterfeiters were producing hokey alcohol and trying to pass them off as Smirnoff brand vodka to unsuspecting consumers.
This isn’t the first major bootlegging operation of alcohol that has occurred and indeed it remains a major problem for almost all countries around the world, not just for vodka but for basically any popular alcoholic beverage. In many cases, the actual alcohol is diluted with water and in some of the worst cases, include poisonous substances such as methanol, a colorless, odorless substance used in making anti-freeze that can lead to death if consumed in large quantities.
We don’t want you guys to be falling prey to any nasty fake stuff, so here are some ways you can try and identify fakes versus the real deal in the alcohol world.
First of all, check the price. Normally bootleggers want to move their product quickly, so generally they try to push their prices lower than normal. If a price seems to good to be true for a price of premium vodka, it probably is.
Check the label. Fake bottles tend to have poorly printed labels and their quality can normally be readily seen as inferior. Check also for spelling mistakes and missing information on the bottle. One thing to look for is the duty stamp. Depending on where you are in the world, the duty stamp will identify that a particular alcohol has passed muster to be sold in your country. Fake bottles tend to have copied stamps, or might have the entirely wrong stamp, or perhaps an outdated one.
Check the barcode. If you have a barcode scanner on your phone, try scanning the bottle and make sure it comes up as the product it’s on. We’ve seen in some cases some bar codes on hokey vodka has been linked to camera equipment and even toothpaste, of all things.
Check for inconsistency. Do two bottles seem to have different amounts of liquid inside? Does the liquid look “pure” or does it seem to have sediment or appear to be cloudy? If anything looks suspect in this area, it’s very likely you have an off bottle.
If the particular alcohol comes with a screw cap, make sure that the screw cap and it’s retaining ring do not both turn when attempting to open the bottle. This may indicate the cap has been manually fitted rather than closed by machine and the spirit may be suspect.
Worse comes to worse, you buy the bottle, but your still not sure? Smell it. Fake liquors will normally have an off smell and not have the scent you would expect from them.
We wouldn’t really recommend Tasting, but this is the one surefire way to find out if your bottle is legit or Mickey Mouse. If you’ve come this far though and your bottle has passed every other test, it’s likely the real deal.