Russian police raid fake Johnnie Walker plant
Police in Russia have uncovered a factory producing thousands of bottles of counterfeit alcohol, including Johnnie Walker Black Label.
The factory, located in the village of Beloomut outside of Moscow, reportedly included thousands of bottles of falsified alcoholic products, including well-known whisky, Cognac and rum brands.
In a clip posted on a Russian government social media account, dozens of boxes of branded alcohol were seen stacked on top of each other.
The video shows specialist economic security and anti-corruption police inspecting a bottle of Johnnie Walker, which appeared to have sediment floating inside it.
The police have deemed the alcohol “unsafe to drink”.
Tatyana Petrova, Russia interior ministry press office lead, told The Herald: “Officers during an inspection found and seized more than 3,000 bottles of alcohol and two tonnes of spirit, as well as accessories and empty bottles with labels from well-known brands.”
Petrova noted that while the plant appeared to be bottling the spirits, it was not distilling them.
A 29-year-old Russian has been arrested on suspicion of organising the production, while two workers have also been taken into custody.
Diageo, which owns Johnnie Walker, stopped exports to Russia following its invasion of Ukraine last year.
A Diageo spokesperson said: “Diageo is not either directly or indirectly importing or selling any products in Russia.
“We are always very concerned of any reports of counterfeit alcohol as it can so often be harmful for both consumers and society. We are taking all appropriate steps within the parameters of current local and international laws to ensure our products are not counterfeited.”
In February it was reported that Russian drinks companies have plans to exploit a loophole that will allow them to import Scotch whisky, despite boycotts.
In addition, last year Vladimir Putin’s government announced it would allow controversial ‘parallel imports’ of selected premium alcohol brands, including Johnnie Walker.
It is the threat of these parallel imports that led Jameson owner Pernod Ricard to resume exports to Russia last month.
In response to calls for a portfolio-wide boycott of all Pernod Ricard brands from outraged consumers, a spokesperson for the company warned that its intention to navigate the complexity of the situation, “including stopping the export of our international brands,” would not stop its products from “falling into the hands of the ‘grey market’, which has strongly increased in recent months, over which we have no control”.
In the April issue of The Spirits Business magazine, we looked at how the industry is tackling fake alcohol.