An alleged operation bottling counterfeit Johnnie Walker was just uncovered in Russia, according to Scotland-based news outlet The Herald. Officials raided an industrial plant located just outside of Moscow last week, where they discovered thousands of bottles of Johnnie Walker Black Label as well as other whisky, rum, and cognac brands.
The contents of the bottles were found to be “unsafe to drink,” per the media outlet. A video shared by Russia’s Interior Ministry shows a Johnnie Walker bottle with an unknown black liquid floating inside.
“Officers during an inspection found and seized more than 3000 bottles of alcohol and two tonnes of spirit, as well as accessories and empty bottles with labels from well-known brands,” as Tatyana Petrova, the Russia Interior Ministry press office lead, tells The Herald. Petrova notes that this plant appeared to be bottling the spirits, but not distilling them.
Two unnamed employees at the bottling plant were taken into police custody. A separate Russian citizen was also arrested in connection to the case. This raid follows recent investigations of similar small counterfeit operations in Russia and comes on the heels of recent concerns voiced by the Scotch Whisky Association, according to previous reporting from The Herald.
Diageo, Johnnie Walker’s parent company, has slowed operations in Russia and is not currently permitting product imports to the country due to Russian aggression in Ukraine, according to Reuters. Select legal loopholes, however, have allowed shipments into the country against Diageo’s wishes. Russia-based spirits importers employ “parallel imports” to purchase Johnnie Walker by obtaining the Scotch through other countries.
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