How to recognize fake alcohol

Buying a bottle can feel like you’re breaking the bank sometimes due to Singapore’s heavy taxes on alcoholic beverages. Frequent drinkers who bear the brunt of these taxes know just how expensive liquors in Singapore can be.

As alluring as the price tag is, lusting after a cheap bottle does not always pay off. From craft beer to wine and spirits, there are many detriments to consuming fake alcohol — and that includes the bottle of Chivas you so readily bought at a heavily discounted price!


Certified alcoholic drinks are comprised of ethanol, which is safe to consume in moderation. Illegally produced spirits, however, can be made with other types of alcohol which may cause serious health risks. Some of the more severe symptoms include nausea, dizziness and abdominal pain. In worst-case scenarios, it may even lead to death! So the next time you’re eyeing that bottle of cheap alcohol on the shelf, you might want to reconsider.


Visual Indicators 

Don’t let this information put you off buying your next bottle of whisky or cognac, however. There is a very simple way to check if the alcohol on the shelves is too good to be true or if it’s just one of our amazing deals.


Fill level

When shopping for a bottle of dark liquor, watch out for details such as the fill level. For a bottle that is claiming to be made in the 20th century, the fill level of the alcohol should only reach mid-neck. Since airspace in the bottle (known otherwise as ullage) increases over time, a bottle with little airspace would indicate that it was produced only recently.



Whiskeys tend to leave sediment as they mature, so check the bottom of a bottle very closely before purchasing. The lack of sediment in a bottle could very well mean that the bottle was filled not too long ago.



Beading refers to the bubbles that form when the alcohol is shaken. Shaking the bottle to observe the beading is an easy test you could conduct on your own. Generally, bubbles that form in a bottle of whiskey at 40% alcohol by volume (ABV) will disappear in seconds. On the other hand, a bottle with more than 50% ABV tends to have bubbles that last 20 seconds or longer. If the bubbles do not react accordingly to the ABV stated on the bottle, that may be a hint that the alcohol is not authentic.



The way the bottle is packaged can give some hints as to whether the alcohol is counterfeit or not. The easiest way for unlicensed sellers to earn is by copying well-known brands and attempting to sell theirs alongside the authentic bottles. Be careful though! Many of these sellers tweak the famous brand names and try to pass it off as the real deal.

Do keep a lookout for poor quality packagings, such as broken seals, peeling labels, or even something as minor as spelling mistakes. If there are any creases or bumps on the label that might indicate that the packaging job is of low-quality, the alcohol inside might just be inauthentic.

Take note of the manufacturing and expiry dates as well — if the dates look suspicious, don’t buy it. Better yet, if you can crosscheck the authenticity of the barcodes, perhaps through an app on your phone, by all means, do so. Be very confident that the alcohol is genuine before you purchase anything.


Weight and shape of the bottle

Carry the bottle in your hands and compare it with other bottles or your own memory of previous bottles you’ve drunk. Does it feel as heavy as it should be? If it doesn’t, it is most probably fake. Counterfeit alcohol tends to be housed in lighter bottles, so be wary of that.

The shape of the bottle matters just as much. Often, the hardest part of imitating real alcohol is to reproduce the distinctive design of the bottle itself, from the engraving to the colouring. The silhouette should match its real counterpart, including the depth of the dimple at the bottom of the bottle (also known as a punt).

Of course, there is a very lucrative business in refilling authentic bottles with counterfeit products as well. Therefore, it is very important to always buy from a reputable supermarket or shop. Even then, you should check for the seals on the caps. If they are broken, the rule of thumb is to not buy it. While broken seals may not be an accurate indicator of whether the alcohol is fake, it could be a sign that the content has been tampered with.



All in all, do avoid buying alcohol at ridiculously low prices. Being scammed may just be the best-case scenario in a situation where you do end up with a fake bottle — in the worst case, you might face major health risks that are just not worth saving a few bucks! Learn to tell between the authentic and the counterfeit and you will be set.

Where to Find Authentic Alcohol

Here at Cellarbration we offer authentic alcohols (guaranteed) at the lowest prices (not guaranteed). Not only that, but we also provide alcohol delivery services in Singapore. There is even free delivery for all orders above SGD99.00!

Craving a bottle of whiskey or cognac? Check out our wide range of alcohol, from beers to whiskies, wine, cognac and spirits. Online shopping in Singapore has never been easier. Enjoy a bottle of genuine cognac within the comforts of your own home today.