THE SCOTCH WHISKY DETECTIVES
From vodka to wine, counterfeit alcohol is big business. And while it’s a never-ending struggle to track down fakes, in Scotland they’re on top of their game. Many in the illicit industry try their hand at creating fake Scotches. Not only do fakes cost loss of revenue they also damage a brand’s name. Researchers at University of Strathclyde’s Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry have devised new and quicker ways to determine authentic Scotch whisky brands from fake ones. 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 identify the eight authentic and nine counterfeit samples. For this process, mid-infrared spectrometry was used with immersion probes that incorporate the latest optical fibers developed by Fibre Photonics, a Scottish 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. According to the scientists, this new system may improve the technology that the industry is currently being usedg, and provide prompt, accurate analysis without the complexity and cost of some other systems.