Simple ways to identify illicit or fake liquor

Simple ways to identify illicit or fake liquor
Raman Kalia - August 31, 2018

The subject of this article is about alcohol. KNOWFAKES would like to clarify that by writing on nuances around it, we do not endorse drinking or habits of it. Having said that alcohol remains or considered to be a major part of New Year get togethers or celebrations. It is our duty to educate our readers and enable them to differentiate genuine liquor from the fake or illicit one. We have tried to provide the info in simplest possible terms and language. There are few, generic and easy, but, often overlooked guidelines that can save you from consuming a bad product, which, otherwise, can spoil your or your loved ones time of joy. So, we would request you to kindly pay attention to the tips below and stay healthy and safe this new year and time to come.


Billing is important – Though sounds like a redundant practice to adopt and moreover you do not want to be laughed at by your friends. Yet, getting an invoice for your bottles adds safety of more originals being bought by you. You can test this approach with any liquor vendor. Most of those who sell fake or illicit bottles would never, or mostly not, give invoice. They become liable immediately if something goes wrong.

Seal is the deal – Ensure every bottle you buy is sealed. It is not restricted to cap only. Plastic bottles are easily penetrated with syringe holes to take out the original and mix them with spurious liquid. It is easy for many to patch the tiny hole without it getting noticed by someone. It will not be a bad idea to check bottom of the bottle for a possible sign of small patch of extra melted plastic. Similarly, all caps are dual sealed. First seal is what manufacture does and second is of the code provided by excise department. The code is specific to the state and product. Either of the seals could only be broken before consumption.

GTIN No. – What is it? It is a code (mostly represented as 1D or 2D barcode) that carries the verifiable number that confirms product’s company, product type, batch no. manufacturing / packaging date etc. Verify it against what is printed alongside on the label. Duplicators engaged in printing their own labels or making duplicate packs go wrong in maintaining the right GTIN. Not everyone knows but this is the first step most of the investigators do when they suspect fake of a brand. This link can take you to the global GTIN verification website.

FSSAI – Food Safety and Standard Authority of India is beacon guiding and regulating all food producers of India to make products safe for consumption. FSSAI places products in different categories and has drafted general plus specific rules for them. FSSAI number is published on the manufacturer’s website or ads. It is mapped to the product’s owner or manufacturer. Internet age lets you verify it immediately.

What you see is what you get – If you know your favorite brand then you must also know about how it looks. In other words, you must remember the correct spelling of the name, company that make it, color or image pattern it uses, Logo that identifies it. Remember copying is never perfect and counterfeiters are bound to make mistake in one of these areas.



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How old is it – Every legitimate bottle must have a batch number associated with it. It should also carry a clear date of manufacturing, which states the age of this genie in the bottle. Some of the alcohols have a minimum period of storage before they are packet or bottled for shipment. Ensure that date of manufacturing is not of shorter period than date of packing. And yes, counterfeiters do mistakes in that as well.

Is it allowed to be sold – Statutory requirements mandate that all Alcohol bottles must mention if they are allowed to be sold in that state or not. Many a times, bottles re-filled by counterfeiters are brought in from other states. A re-filled or even re-labeled bottle may also mistake to mention your state’s name under restriction list. Check the label.

Can someone help – Yes! You can call up the manufacturer itself. It is mandated that alcohol bottle should have the contact details. i.e. email and phone number of the manufacturer on it. If not there, you can raise your eyebrows and report to local police on finding something suspicious.

Purity – Though liquor is not liked by many but it is considered as one of the most purified products among all the packaged liquids sold. All liquor bottles must not have any foreign particle carrying in them. If it does, you have all the rights to give it back or complaint against it. Mostly fake liquor has these complaints due to their poor infrastructure and packing facilities.

Is everything in right proportion – Alcohol is always a mix of different ingredients. You should check if they are in right quantity of total mix. If it is not as per standard then it is fake.

Apart from above methods, some of the FMCG manufacturers have started shipping their products with pack specific codes that can be verified in real-time for the product authenticity. KNOWFAKES provide one such capability. If you find KNOWFAKES code on any product, you can verify it with us immediately.

Last but not the least, we wish you to celebrate New Year with your family and friends and request you to not over indulge in drinking. Even if you do, please do not mix it with driving as you may be the cause of injuries or death to others, in case you go unhurt.