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Diageo ‘very concerned’ about Russian counterfeit alcohol

Russian officers have raided a bottling factory in Moscow, which had been bottling fake Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky and other brands.

The officers found the fake bottles, which they said were unsafe to drink. On a post on a Russian social media post, the liquid within a fake Johnnie Walker Black Label bottle appeared to include a black, oily substance.

The news follows Diageo, which owns the Johnnie Walker brand, boycotting the Russian marketplace and numerous attempts by underground bottling facilities to produce counterfeit versions of the brand’s whisky, as well as other drinks which are unavailable.

Speaking about the findings, Diageo told db: “Diageo is not either directly or indirectly importing or selling any products in Russia. We are always very concerned of any reports of counterfeit alcohol as it can so often be harmful for both consumers and society.

“We are taking all appropriate steps within the parameters of current local and international laws to ensure our products are not counterfeited.”

Despite the boycott by Diageo, there are still real bottles of Johnnie Walker entering the Russian market. In February, db reported the Beluga Group was set to import bottles of Johnnie Walker whisky to Russia this year, despite not having the brand owner Diageo’s consent.

The Moscow-based vodka giant, according to reports, disclosed plans to break the Scotch whisky boycott of Russia by gaining the blessing of the Kremlin to import more than 300,000 bottles of Johnnie Walker without needing the permission of Diageo.

Last spring, Vladimir Putin’s government controversially stated how it would allow “parallel imports” of premium alcohol brands. Putin’s new legalisation, otherwise known as the ‘grey market’, was in response to sanctions over his invasion of Ukraine and would essentially give retailers a way to import goods without the trademark owner’s permission via countries that were sympathetic to Russia, such as Turkey, China and Kazakhstan.

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