There is currently an empty bottle of Macallan whisky for sale on ebay, there are many such bottles, usually on sale for a few quid, I was looking myself because due to weight restrictions I needed to decant a few of my summer holiday purchases into plastic bottles and thought I’d maybe buy a few empty bottles, just in case you thought I was being shifty myself.
Now, this bottle of Macallan is the Grand Reserva 18 Year Old, it comes in a fancy box, with a certificate and the like and whilst most empties shift for a few pounds plus postage and packing this is currently sitting at nearly ninety pounds, let that sink in, oh and there are still three days remaining.
Perhaps this is scam or someone has placed a huge bid out of malice but unless it’s those things I can only think of one reason why someone would spend so much on something so worthless, they plan to stick tea or some cheap blend into the bottle and re sell this on at auction for the several thousands of pounds it would sell for.
I have seen YouTube videos showing how such arseholes operate, counterfeiting is big business even for cheaper whiskies so a bottle, box and certificate of something like this would be, I suspect, gold dust to the scammers.
Whoever wins this item must know how to get it back into auction with a realistic seal and cover, unless they are selling it via one of the many Facebook whisky sites as auction houses surely would take extra care to check this bottle is legit.
I have though stopped buying at auction because out of the three auction sites I’ve used I have ended up with dodgy bottles, that’s just the way it is I guess, you take a risk buying at auction and I’ve been stung enough to know it’s not worth my while.
One thing I will say though is how much it really matters what’s in the bottle? One of the most surprising things about this particular ebay lot is that someone has actually opened a bottle of whisky most of us assume is being bought by collectors with deep pockets for the bottle and box to sit in a cabinet for the next twenty years, such is the way with whisky these days. So if a con artist did repackage the bottle what would be the chances of it ever being opened? I dunno, I guess it’s not really the point here is it?
So what can be done?
A friend of mine on Twitter suggested Macallan contact ebay and ask for the item to be taking down as it is encouraging counterfeit goods, there used to be a time when you could sell bottles on ebay but this was stopped but that more due to licencing laws, I believe, the problem of course is who owns the bottle?
Video game companies have argued for years that the secondary market helps kill the industry as people buying second hand games miss out the original developer and publisher altogether but they keep losing, it’s why more and more content is going digital, stops the secondary market dead in it’s tracks because there is no physical disc to sell on and I believe Sony have tried to suggest they always own the content of anything you buy for the PS4 making secondary selling copyright infringement, but I don’t think they got on very well there either.
Personally I think it would be a fucking nightmare to suggest that the bottle or label is still under the ownership of the company, once you’ve bought that product it’s yours as long as you don’t seek to profit from the image.. oh wait, isn’t that exactly what is happening here? Perhaps that’s something for companies to look into, but then it would kill the auction market and if the auction market died I don’t think we’d see nearly as many of these limited edition wooden framed bottled going on sale, do you?
Thinking out loud maybe the answer is holding auction sites to account, they take in thousands of bottles every auction and if even a handful of rogues slip through then that’s surely a handful too many? They will all certainly need to be more vigilant as the scammers get cleverer.
Or what if the distilleries themselves got wiser, I’ve seen holograms used on labels, Macallan funnily enough, and perhaps other sophisticated labeling, or even produce a chart for auction houses and us punters which gives as detailed an account of what a bottle should actually look like, or would that just drive prices up even higher?
I’m not having a total go at the secondary market by the way, people are allowed to make money off the back of people willing to pay outrageous amounts for whisky, I’m just glad I’m not a collector of anything specific because I see how obsessed people get being completionists, balls to that.
Obviously we could also stop putting such a high price on whisky in the first place, but that’s just crazy talk.