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Adam Herz

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

Many years of experience have established me as a leading U.S. expert 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.

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 trained 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 Kentucky distillery, and worked with industry private investigators. I've even extracted confessions from fakers.

If that sounds odd for something a guy does in his spare time -- yep, it is. It's just something I kind of fell into. I just don't want to see the whiskey hobby polluted by fakes, the way that entire sectors of collectible wine have been decimated by counterfeiters.

And by the way, I hate the word "expert" and I hate that I have to "brag" above. Much of this page is so when I approach someone about a bottle, they can find a quick summary of my experience. And "expert" is the easiest shorthand for my experience and knowledge relative to others. Not because I think I'm a super-awesome magical whiskeyperson. The day that I can point to a dozen other people and say "They're way better than me on this topic" is a day I hugely look forward to, 'cause this stuff is a pain.

You can also check out my new(er) facebook page Herz's Serious Whiskey Info where I occasionally discuss whiskey scams, fakes, and generally cool things to know.
As far as my tasting notes go, in the last 8-9 years I’ve been taking far less notes than I once did... it just became more fun to simply enjoy stuff. I still post ratings every now and then. Sometimes my tastings are blind, usually those are my more detailed notes. But most of the time, I just drink whisky to appreciate with friends and don't worry about taking notes or thinking of specific descriptors. It's a beverage, you drink it! Don't be intimidated by high pricing, or be deterred by low pricing, or think there's a "right" way to enjoy something -- you enjoy what you enjoy, the way you enjoy it.

I also hold the Guinness World Record for owning the World’s Oldest Whiskey (here's the detailed writeup) which took over four years of working with Guinness to verify and a bevy of expert consultations, tests, and a lot more.

Help Fight 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 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.
  • 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.
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