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Insider-trading bourbon on Facebook, what could possibly go wrong?
Risky whiskey posts lead to embezzlement charges, "The Lululemon of Wines" + more
#️⃣ Digits: Insider (bourbon) trading
Used to be, you could just mosey on down to any old liquor score to pick up a bottle of Blanton’s, a upper-midshelf bourbon distilled by the Sazerac Company1 and popular for the metal horse figurines that mounted on its collectible corkstoppers. But those times have changed. These days, Blanton’s, along with Buffalo Trace, Henry McKenna, and other formerly affordable brown liquors, flies off the shelves pretty much whenever it’s stocked, thanks to flippers who can resell the bottles for 3-4x retail prices to scarcity-fetish freaks in obscure message boards and private whiskey Facebook groups. You know how people make fun of sneakerheads for plowing mortgage payments into three dozen pairs of AirMax 90s in slightly different color schemes? Yeah, this is like that, just with booze.
Flipping bourbon is legally dubious at best, and a great money-making alternative to, you know, a job, so naturally, it attracts society’s unsavory elements. In control states, the arbitrage opportunity puts resellers directly at odds with Alcoholic Beverage Control officials who are required by law to sell the bourbon at set prices and compelled by ethics to try to make the market fair for all customers, not just hustlers. To wit: this spring, Virginia’s ABC implemented a randomization system in hopes of reducing the massive lines that had begun to form outside any brick-and-mortar store that had a coveted brand in stock. People predicted that this system, valiant and well-intentioned though it might be, would just create new opportunities for bourbon-based chicanery. Seems like people were right, as earlier this week, VABC investigators handed out…
4 felony indictments
…to two men for computer trespass and embezzling the agency’s inventory list in order to sell bourbon intel to thirsty collectors online. The enterprise was basically insider trading, but for bourbon: one of the alleged felons was a VABC employee, and passed details about upcoming drops of Blanton’s et al. to an outside accomplice, who then shopped the information in bourbon hobbyist groups online. That outsider, according to a report from the Virginia Mercury, would often post teasers on Facebook under his own name attract potential customers, and “at times bragged that [V]ABC wouldn’t catch on to what was happening.” Huge Paul Manafort “let’s do some Russia crimes” energy, we have no choice but to stan. Expect this sort of thing to keep happening until control states get more flexibility to set retail prices that accurately reflect demand, and/or inflation and rising interest rates bring all the formerly flush bourbon speculators to ruin and their thirst for alternative assets subsides. Don’t you just wish it, in your heart of hearts?
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