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Issue 138 - Modern Day Bootleggers

Whisky Magazine Issue 138
September 2016


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Modern Day Bootleggers

The dark arts working in cyberspace

There's a new kind of bootlegger. Unlike those during Prohibition, today's bootlegger does not drive convoys under the cover of darkness. They don't carry tommy guns or go by the term 'bootlegger', a term that's so 1920s.

They lurk in the cyber space, connecting with buyers on Craigslist, Facebook, Reddit and random forums such as TripAdvisor. The modern unlicensed liquor dealers called 'flippers', and they're getting rich off the rise of all whiskies.

You, the normal consumer, read about Yamazaki 21 Years Old, Pappy Van Winkle or the Dalmore that went for $150,000. You go to your local liquor store, whose attendant laughs at you when you ask for something so rare that a professional has never even seen the bottle. So, naturally, you want to buy this great product and you go to Google, where you post a comment somewhere on the web and somebody contacts you, or you find a private online group solely created to sell to the thirsty. This is how many buy their rare whiskeys, and it's all illegal.

In some respects, the so-called flippers are providing a service to a consumer group that cannot find desired whiskey through normal channels. But they are hated by the connoisseurs, retailers and distributors for inflating prices. Even Buffalo Trace Distillery released a statement saying it would help law enforcement crack down on people selling outside of legal channels:

“We do receive many e-mails enquiring about the online or ‘secondary' market for our whiskies and especi...

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