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Scientists develop faster method to identify genuine Scotch whisky

on 26/07/11 at 2:25 pm



A new test developed at the University of Strathclyde paves the way for portable devices to root out counterfeit batches

Researchers at University of Strathclyde’s Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry have devised new and quicker way to make out authentic Scotch whisky brands from fake ones.


These new methods compare the content of whisky samples to determine if they are the whisky as mentioned on the label or a me-too brand.

The scientists analyzed 17 samples of blended whisky, checking the concentration of ethanol in the samples without diluting them and the residue of dried whisky. With the levels of ethanol and colorant, the scientists could rightly identify the eight authentic and nine counterfeit samples.

For this process, Mid-infrared spectrometry was used with immersion probes that incorporate latest optical fibers developed by Fibre Photonics, a Scotland company.

David Littlejohn, the professor who headed the research team, said the whisky industry has tools for telling authentic and counterfeit whisky brands apart but many of them include lab-based analysis, which isn’t always the most convenient system if a sample needs to be identified quickly.

“There’s a growing need for methods that can provide simpler and faster identification and we have developed a method which could be adapted for devices to use on site, without the need to return samples to a lab,” Littlejohn added.

The repercussions of illicit whisky trading are devastating in terms of costing huge sums of money, losing lot of revenue and marring of brand name.

According to the scientists, this new system may improve the technology that the industry is currently using to combat illicit whisky trading, and provide prompt, accurate analysis without the complexity and cost of some other systems.

Scottish Funding Council (SFC), Fibre Photonics and WestCHEM, a joint research school formed by the Universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow have provided financial support for the project.

SOURCE: Drinks Business

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