I work in New York City and occasionally will look for Bourbon on the secondary market in the area so no shipping is needed. I’ve built a decent network of people that drink, collect and trade; they share the passion and I trust them. I saw an ad on Craigslist for some very old bottles of George T Stagg. I haven’t seen these Buffalo Trace Antique Collection bottles pop up on the secondary for a while, I don’t have them and I wanted them. I was hesitant, but really interested, so I emailed the person for additional photos. This is what the person sent:
It bothered me that there were a lot of empties in the background. Was this person refilling them? Was he just a collector of empty bottles they drank? I don’t know… I actually keep all my BTAC empties too, and I have a shelf I call my graveyard that all the epic bottles I have drank over the year stay. I decided to give this person the benefit of the doubt and just ask them why there were so many empties around and if he could send me photos of the laser code.
The person, who claimed to be an avid drinker of BTAC and Handy send me a photo of the UPC symbol on the back, saying that was the only code they knew of. They also claimed to make lamps out of the empty bottles. The lamp thing I can see, but I don’t know anyone who has a huge collector of BTAC that doesn’t know about the laser codes–that’s pretty much common knowledge for everyone who trades them. This was a huge red flag to me that required further inquiry.
I told the person that I was still interested in purchasing the bottles, but expressed my concern about them given all the empties in the background, referencing that there have been known to have fakes/refills going around. If he was a legit seller he would have come back to me and understood my concern, and willing to talk to me, provided references, etc. Instead he went on an expletive rant, accused me of being a personal ad craigslist troll, and then deleted the ad. I guess he was upset that I caught him in a fraud.
The moral of the story is that if you think something smells fishy, ask a few questions and most likely if it is a fraud, it will unravel. Or if you are smarter than me, just stay away to begin with and only trade/sell with trusted/verified people on better websites like bottle-spot.com. Is there a small chance that this person wasn’t selling fake bottles? Yes… but then he’s just a mean person with very bad manners that isn’t worth dealing with anyway.