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Food & Beverage

How to Authenticate Liquor: 6 Ways to Tell a Fake from the Genuine Product

Is alcohol selling a lucrative business?

Although recent statistics showed a drop in revenue in 2020 compared to the previous year, the global market size of liquors is expected to recover its losses during the pandemic by 2022. In fact, it is expected to grow into a $2.2-trillion industry by 2025.

Taking this long-term market insight into consideration, it’s only natural for many entrepreneurs to attempt to take a piece of the gains. Unfortunately, not all do it by the book, as some end up selling counterfeit alcohol.

As a consumer, you need to be wary of these fake drinks as they not only take your money illegally but also put your health at risk. This article aims to help you understand the dangers of counterfeit alcohol and how to distinguish them from the real thing.

Why Check? The Dangers of Fake Alcohol

Fake alcoholic drinks are made in unlicensed distilleries that may not have met quality control standards. Some are even crafted at home and are not made according to the certified method, which could also mean that they may contain potentially dangerous chemicals.

So besides avoiding deception, checking whether the product you bought is authentic also saves you from certain health repercussions, like alcohol poisoning.

Usually, fake alcohol is not made from ethanol, the type of alcohol considered safe for moderate consumption. Among the commonly used substitutes when making counterfeit spirits are chemicals also found in:

  • Cleaning agents
  • Nail polish remover
  • Automobile screen wash
  • Antifreeze
  • Petrol

Isopropanol, methanol, and other substitutes used may result in feeling tipsy, but they can also make you experience the following unhealthy symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Pale skin
  • Hypothermia or low body temperature
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Stupor (unresponsive while conscious)

They could also increase your risk of liver and kidney problems, and lead to permanent blindness or even coma.

6 Tips to Authenticate Liquor

Prevention is always better than a cure. So if you don’t want to waste money and experience awful symptoms, you should make sure that you only buy genuine liquor.

To help you do this, below are some tips you can use in authenticating the alcoholic beverages you buy from liquor stores:

1. Check the packaging.

Often, the most obvious red flag you’ll find that screams “fake liquor” would be the erroneous details in packaging you should watch out for, including:

  • Spelling mistakes
  • Unclear or inaccurate logos
  • Missing or fake barcodes and duty stamps

You should also be wary if the bottle you bought has an unsealed cap. This could mean that the container could be authentic but recycled and used to trick consumers into buying illegal fake alcohol.

2. Know the ‘ideal’ price.

Besides the packaging, you should also learn the ideal price of the bottle you intend to buy. Don’t let too-good-to-be-true prices fool you, as there’s a high probability that they are attached to a fake.

Research the suggested retail prices of the brand and type of liquor before buying. Also, take into account the typical taxes added to the product’s gross price.

 3. Verify the reputation of the liquor store.

You can also verify the liquor store’s reputation to reduce the risk of buying fake products.

Read reviews or ask around for recommendations from people you know and trust. To be safe, just stick to a liquor store in Abu Dhabi that has been tried and tested in your area.

 4. Look for the product expiration and manufacturing dates.

Some illegal alcohol sellers also recycle authentic bottles to sell their unregistered products.

To check if this is the case, look at the product manufacturing and expiration dates stamped or printed on the label. If the dates seem to be too long ago, they’re probably recycled.

 5. Inspect the bottle’s contents.

You should also inspect the contents of the bottle before buying. Check the liquid’s colour and texture and see if it matches the ideal for the type and age of liquor you’re buying.

For example, whiskies bottled no later than the 1970s should have sediments accumulated at the bottom. If there’s none, the product is either not certified whisky or some refill of a younger variety of the drink.

You can also determine if the bottle’s alcohol content is congruent with the whisky label by shaking the bottle. The key is to check the “beading” that appears after shaking.

If this ring of frothy bubbles disappears rapidly, it means the whisky contains 40 per cent alcohol by volume (ABV). If beading persists for 20 to 30 seconds, the label should read above 50 per cent ABV.

Remember: Inconsistencies in the label and content quality are always red flags for alcoholic beverages.

6. Get a good whiff before drinking.

You can also spot fake alcohol by sniffing out unusual odours before drinking. No authentic alcoholic beverage smells like turpentine, varnish, or any other chemicals.

At this point, you have probably already bought the bottle and are ready to drink it. Although you may no longer get your money back, you can still save yourself from the health-related consequences you may experience by drinking fake alcohol.

Enjoy Alcohol Safely

Knowing the difference between genuine and counterfeit liquor affects whether you enjoy the drink or not, not to mention your own safety. Follow this guide and make sure you only buy genuine spirits safely.

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