Worldwide Illicit and Counterfeit Alcoholic Spirits: Problem, Detection, and Prevention

Michael A. Bryan, Annie E. Hill*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Worldwide, counterfeit, illicit, and untaxed alcoholic spirits are responsible for problems with economy, labor, and public health. Estimations of counterfeit spirits range from 25% to 40% of total alcoholic spirits consumed globally. Including knock-on effects, these products cost the EU alone 23,400 lost jobs and at least €3B in lost revenue per year. Annually there is at least €1.2B in lost government revenue. Counterfeit products decrease legitimate sales, both by replacement sales, and by the erosion of consumer product trust and satisfaction of legitimate goods and decrease legitimate manufacturing jobs. We review the worldwide problem, scope, and scale of the spirits counterfeiting problem including specific health issues, and the international plight of reduced labor available resulting directly from production and sale of counterfeited liquor. In addition, we review a wide range of methods and technologies to analytically detect chemically adulterated or substituted products that have been published and group technologies into 4 functional areas highlighting economy, generality, and utility. Approaches to prevention are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the American Society of Brewing Chemists
Early online date12 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Apr 2024


  • Authenticity
  • counterfeit
  • illicit
  • poisoning
  • spirit analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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