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Adam Herz

My professional bio is online elsewhere. Here, I'll blow my own horn about whiskey stuff.

Years of experience have established me as one of the leading U.S. experts on counterfeit whiskey and dating vintage spirits. How did that happen to a Hollywood screenwriter? Well, back when I started this club, there wasn’t much info on how to date and authenticate classic bottles of old liquor. So, a few of us LAWS guys took it upon ourselves to do the research and legwork. We ended up pioneering many of the dating techniques now commonplace in the whiskey community.

(By the way, I cringe to use the word "expert" because anyone genuinely accomplished at something shouldn't need to refer to themselves that way. But in a bio like this, it's the most concise word there is).

I’ve identified countless fakes residing in private collections (I stopped keeping tabs in 2015, when the value passed $1M). I've been flown across the country to evaluate ultra-rare bottles owned by prestigious estates. I’ve consulted with all the major U.S. auction houses and educated some of their specialists firsthand. I’ve investigated, identified, and exposed over a dozen people tied to whiskey counterfeiting, uncovered an inside job at a major distillery, and worked with industry private investigators. I've even extracted confessions from fakers caught red-handed.

If that sounds a little weird for things that a guy does in his spare time -- uh, yeah, it is. It's something I just kind of fell into.
 
I just don't want to see the whiskey hobby polluted by fakes, the way that some sectors of collectible wine have been decimated by counterfeiters. I encourage people like you to combat fakes:
  • DON'T SELL EMPTIES. Don't let your friends, or neighborhood bars and restaurants.
  • CALL OUT FAKERS AND SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY. Too many collectors just let it continue, afraid to "cause problems" by reporting bad actors.
  • DON'T RETURN FAKES. This should be obvious, yet many collectors selfishly return bottles to the seller, who feigns ignorance in exchange for a refund -- and resells the fake to another victim. If you end up with a fake, Sharpie the labels. If someone wants an empty for a lamp or crafts project, engrave the glass or drill a hole.
  • SOME FAKES ARE PERFECT, especially some Buffalo Trace products like Pappy Van Winkle. If I can't tell the difference, you can't. So-called "safety measures" involving rulers or laser codes are mostly worthless. Buy from trusted sources who share their real identities, legitimate personal details, and answer questions un-evasively.
But enough about that. For now.

As far as my whiskey notes go, over the years I’ve been taking much less notes than I once did. But I’ll still post ratings every now and then. My tastings are often blind, in a controlled setting, where I can “calibrate” my palate against a benchmark whiskey -- usually those are represented by my more detailed notes. But sometimes I'll taste a whiskey at a crowded event, along with friends and loud music and all that. Anyone who tells you that whiskey must be tasted in such-and-such a scenario probably doesn't have that much fun drinking their whiskey. Relax, it's just a beverage!

Click here to see the Main Whisky List sorted by my personal ratings, from best to worst.

I also hold a Guinness World Record for owning the World’s Oldest Whiskey, which took over four years of working with Guinness to verify, complete with radiocarbon dating.
Whiskey Master List
The Stores List
The Bars List
The Online List