You might want to consider popping the cork on that decades-old bottle of rare Scotch whisky that you can't bring yourself to drink.
A joint effort between spirits broker Rare Whisky 101 (RW101) and geochemistry experts at the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Center found that of the 55 ultra-rare Scotches they analyzed using radiocarbon dating techniques, 21 weren't distilled in the year on the labels.
In other words, nearly a third of all the samples were fake. Combined, they had a purported value of over $800,000.
Worse yet, none of the 10 of the bottles they tested with a pre-1900 vintage were found to be legitimate, leading RW101 co-founder David Robertson to issue this statement in a press release:
"It is our genuine belief that every purported pre-1900—and in many cases much later—bottle should be assumed fake until proven genuine, certainly if the bottle claims to be a single malt Scotch whisky."
The bottles were randomly selected from auctions, private collections and retailers. An Ardbeg 1885 and a Thorne's Heritage early 20th century blend were among the counterfeit expressions.
Based on the results, RW101 estimates that there's $52 million of fake rare whisky in secondary markets and private collections in the U.K. alone. They urge buyers to "request absolute proof of authenticity before considering antique bottles."
You've been warned, Scotch lovers.