Bootlegged Booze in Costa Rica?


TICO BULL – The holiday season is here which is celebrated by many with alcohol. And if you are like most, you will be looking for bargains for a bottle of Johnny or Jack.

But be careful, the bargain may not be such and possible put your health at risk.

My dear friend John S. sent me this note, something that I was totally unaware was even going on: discounters are refilling whiskey bottles to selling at low prices.

But what is really in those bottles?

John writes, “I had been buying bourbon at the xxxxx discount liquor store in La Guacima and a friend bought some Jack Daniels there but then he questioned the quality. He paid ¢13.000 colones and AutoMercado sells it for ¢25.000 We have since discovered that the best way to buy booze here is ONLY if the bottle comes with the plastic “anti-refill” thing in the neck of the bottle.

We thought that it was only a pour spout but have since found out that it’s real purpose is to prevent the bottle from being refilled with inferior liquor and sold to unsuspecting folks looking for a big discount. It was recommended that we buy liquor only in the big supermarkets, especially for health concerns, because who knows what the are refilling bottles with.”

Counterfeit bottles of whiskey, vodka, rum and other spirits are a growing problem for global drinks companies, forcing them into cat-and-mouse games with bootleggers.  “A third of the world’s alcohol is estimated to come from what we call illicit production,” Paul Varga, chief executive of Brown-Forman, told the Financial Times. “It can be very dangerous to the point of being poisonous.”

Paul Varga, chief executive of Brown-Forman, the maker of Jack Daniels whiskey, told the Financial Times that the company uses anti-refill caps for its larger bottles to prevent criminals from refilling them with other kinds of alcohol. Companies also contract security firms to devise security holograms, seals and inks that can be verified throughout the distribution process.

John S continues, “My friend in Puriscal bought several liter bottles of JD. at the discount liq. store in La Guacima: ¢13,000, no import sticker, no pour spout. At a liquor store near Avalon (Santa Ana); ¢18.000 colones. Has a sticker and ‘anti-refill’ pour spout.

He compared 1 shot glass with each. The ¢13.000 was lighter in color, smelled different, tasted different.

I went to my local grocery store and bought a Liter  bottle of JD, came in a box, ¢14,850 (US$28.00). It had a distributors label on the back…BUT…no plastic pour spout. I just called the distributor here in Heredia and he told me that if the bottle does not have a plastic pour spout in the neck, it is fake. He called it an “anti-refill” protection. I hadn’t thought about the fact that it is there to prevent someone one from refilling the bottle with shit. So…no more purchases at the Chinese stores, discount liquor stores, etc.

Wow, that’s good to know. I suspected there was some knock-off stuff being distributed there. I started bringing my own Jack when I thought the stuff at the cheap stores was fake.”

Companies acknowledge the challenge of keeping up with creative counterfeiters.

“It can be very dangerous to the point of being poisonous.”

Now you know. Next time you shopping for liquor, keep in mind the “anti-refill” protection and if the bargain is too had to believe, you can believe that what’s inside the bottle probably isn’t what it should be.


Pura Vida, Mae.

Written by Rico


"In my spare time I'm a really nice guy!" RICO is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of online magazines where everything is Q! Rico brings his special kind of savvy to online marketing. His websites are engaging, provocative, informative and sometimes off the wall, where you either like or you leave it. The same goes for him, like him or leave him.There is no middle ground. No compromises, only a passion to present reality as he sees it!