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NYC Wine Store Fined $100,000 for Selling Counterfeit Bourbon The retailer was fined for purchasing whiskey from "unauthorized" sellers.

By Madeline Garfinkle Edited by Jessica Thomas

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

South China Morning Post | Getty Images
John Kapon, CEO of Acker Merrall & Condit Companies, holding the 1964 Lafleur in original wooden case

Acker Merrall Condit, a prestigious wine seller on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, has a history of more than 200 years in business.

Although the retailer dubs itself the "oldest and most respected wine shop in America," its reputation has been tested by a scandal wherein customers were sold counterfeit bottles of Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain bourbon.

The scandal first came to light in 2021, when Inside Edition aired an expose titled "Could Your Favorite Whiskey Be a Rebottled Fake?" Investigators went to Acker and asked for a "really nice bourbon." The salesman suggested Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain, which he said was just getting "harder and harder to find." After paying the steep price of "nearly $1,000," the reporters did further research, noticing red flags before even opening the bottle — the one they purchased lacked a lot code number and did not come in the special packaging tube — both trademarks of genuine Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain bourbon.

Related: I Tried a $1,000 Mint Julep. Was It Worth It?

Inside Edition then sent the bottle to its manufacturer, Buffalo Trace, to run a series of tests — where it was determined that the proof and chemical makeup of the bottle from Acker did not match the real thing. "We are sure that the liquid in the bottle is not ours," Mark Brown, president and CEO of Sazerac, the parent company of Buffalo Trace told Inside Edition during the episode.

Now, nearly a year and a half later, Acker is being fined for selling counterfeit bottles. Allegedly, Acker employees "were going out with their own money, buying from private collections and reselling it to the liquor store, but not telling the liquor store what they paid for it," SLA commissioner Vincent Bradley told The New York Post.

Acker also revealed to the commissioner that it never learned what employees actually paid for the fake bourbon. Acker's lawyer, Kevin Danow, also mentioned that "we believe Acker was targeted," but failed to elaborate, per the Post.

Still, Acker voluntarily chose to pay a fine of $100,000 to settle the charges — well above average for SLA fines, which typically fall between $2,000 and $10,000.

Related: Customer Files Class Action Over 'Whisky' Mini-Bottles Against Fireball Maker

Madeline Garfinkle

News Writer

Madeline Garfinkle is a News Writer at Entrepreneur.com. She is a graduate from Syracuse University, and received an MFA from Columbia University. 

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