Allyson McIntyre is a researcher at the University of Strathclyde. Credit: University of Strathclyde
for distinguishing between authentic and counterfeit Scotch whisky
brands have been devised by scientists at the University of Strathclyde
in Glasgow, Scotland.
from the Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry have found new ways
to compare the content of whisky samples to determine if they are the
whisky on the label or an imitation brand.
series of blind tests successfully put the real whisky brand and the
fakes in the right categories. The system could enhance the technology
industry uses to tackle the trade in illicit whisky, which costs huge
sums in lost revenue and threatens brand reputation.
David Littlejohn, who led the research, said: “The whisky industry has
tools at its disposal for telling authentic and counterfeit whisky
brands apart but many of them involve lab-based analysis, which isn’t
always the most convenient system if a sample needs to be identified
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. It
could be of great benefit to an industry which is hugely important to
researchers analysed 17 samples of blended whisky, looking at the
concentration of ethanol in the samples without diluting them and the
residue of dried whisky. They did so with mid-infrared spectrometry,
used with immersion probes that incorporate novel optical fibres
developed by Scottish based company Fibre Photonics Ltd who co-sponsored
the research. The procedures developed can provide prompt, accurate
analysis without the complexity and cost of some other systems.
The levels of ethanol and colourant led them to identify correctly the eight authentic and nine counterfeit samples.
support for the project was provided by the Scottish Funding Council
(SFC), Fibre Photonics Ltd and WestCHEM, a joint research school formed
by the Universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow. The SFC funding was for
a studentship through its SPIRIT (Strategic Priority Investments in
Research and Innovation Translation) programme.The project research
paper has been published in Analytica Chimica Acta.