Facebook Purges Bourbon Groups


April 19, 2016


Facebook shut down bourbon-related groups April 18, but they returned without an apparent change two days later.

Facebook has not yet provided comment about the shutdown or its the reinstatement.

What happened?

Well, the bourbon purge began the evening of April 18 with group admins being contacted about the change and continued into the morning with some of my favorite bourbon groups completely gone. (Yes, full disclosure, I belonged to several of these groups.) Most, but not all, had a trade-oriented platform. According to this Facebook guideline page, pages / groups may promote, but “ the private sale of regulated goods or services (including firearms, alcohol, tobacco, or adult products) must restrict access to a minimum age of 18.”

Meanwhile, the popular social media site is also shutting down cigar groups, according to The Cigar Authority. Earlier this year, Facebook announced the ban on private gun sales. Is alcohol on the way out, too?

One distillery has alerted me to a private group who has been attempting to shut down the so-called bourbon secondary market. Recent media coverage of the secondary market and fake Pappy Van Winkle being sold are likely reasons why a group of bourbon enthusiasts would want to end the Facebook groups. One member of this supposed group has declined it exists. If such a group is out there, they’re likely law enforcement or a special interest group. I doubt they’re ordinary consumers.

The bulk of the social media blame for bourbon group shut down has been targeted at Matthew Landan, owner of the popular Louisville bar Haymarket. Landan presented at the Bar Institute in Baltimore, a bartender trade show, a seminar titled, “Underground Whiskey: How to Navigate the Collectors Market for Fun and Profit.” The seminar was described as an insider’s look into the “black market Facebook pages to Craigslist.” Within hours of Landan’s seminar, the sites were shut down.

For those of us who love looking at vintage bottles, this sucks.

Landan believes he and his seminar are being unfairly “scapegoated.”

Matthew Landen owns the popular bar Haymarket. He believes he's being unfairly blamed for private bourbon groups being shutdown on Facebook. The sites started shutting down after his bartender seminar "Underground Whiskey" Monday.
Matthew Landan owns the popular bar Haymarket. He believes he’s being unfairly blamed for private Facebook bourbon groups being shutdown. The sites started shutting down after his bartender seminar “Underground Whiskey” Monday.

“I have become the face of everything bad in bourbon,” Landan told me in a phone interview. “I’ve destroyed the bourbon internet; I’m surprised they’re not blaming me for the tobacco trade and gun trade and that clearly didn’t have anything to do with my seminar. This is a bar conference made up of bartenders and spirits professionals. There were 20 – 25 people…. not every site I mentioned in my seminar was taken down.”

Landan says he told the audience that the private sale of spirits is illegal. “The timing of my seminar with Facebook takedown across the board is nothing more than coincidental,” he said.


Fred Minnick is the author of Bourbon Curious.