Project manager Guy Peters from the Univ. of Leicester demonstrates how the technology works.
Experts at the Univ.
of Leicester’s Space
Research Centre are working with colleagues at De Montfort Univ. to create a
handheld device which will detect fake whiskey and wine—through the bottle.
The research project to crack down on counterfeit whisky and wine is being
supported by The Food and Drink iNet.
The technology has already been developed by the Univ. of Leicester
team to spot counterfeit medicines by scrutinizing the packaging. Now the
experts are working to transfer the technology to analyze liquids in bottles.
As well as helping to stamp out the big problem of counterfeit whiskey and
fine wine, this could also have major potential for airline security systems.
The technique relies on detecting the differences between the
characteristics of light reflected from printed packaging. Originally developed
from a spectrometer designed and built by the Space Research Centre for
astronomical research, the technique was adapted for use in the pharmaceutical
world by the Univ.
of Leicester team in
conjunction with university spin-out firm Perpetuity Research and Consultancy
Now the technology is being adapted again by the Univ. of Leicester team for
use in detecting fake liquids, with experts at De Montfort Univ. providing
skills in product design and rapid proto-typing so that a handheld device can
“The support from the Food and Drink iNet will allow us to take the
technology and apply it in the case of whiskey and fine wines,” said Tim
Maskell, Knowledge Transfer Manager in the Space Research Centre at the Univ. of Leicester. “The iNet funding will enable
us to design, build and test a laboratory prototype that will allow us to prove
the technology works. If we can then take the technology and do something
similar with other liquids there are potential airport security opportunities
Left to right, Tim Maskell, knowledge transfer manager in the Space Research Centre at the Univ. of Leicester, head of commercial design Professor Peter Ford from De Montfort Univ., Food and Drink iNet advisor for Leicestershire Stevie Jackson, Kate Broadhurst from PRCI Ltd, and project manager Guy Peters, from the Univ. of Leicester.
The project is one of five Collaborative Research and Development grants
worth a total of more than £235,000 announced by the Food and Drink iNet, which
co-ordinates innovation support for businesses, universities and individuals
working in the food and drink sector in the East Midlands. The team has been
awarded £50,000 towards the almost £71,000 cost of the research project.
Funded by East Midlands Development Agency (emda) and the European
Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Food and Drink iNet is one of four
regional iNets that has developed an effective network to link academic and
private sector expertise and knowledge with local food and drink business innovation
“This is a fascinating research project between the Univ. of Leicester,
De Montfort Univ., the Scotch Whisky Research Institute, and Leicestershire
brewery Everards, which brings together space technology and the food and drink
sector and offers real commercial benefit,” said Food and Drink iNet Director
Richard Worrall. “Being able to test a liquid such as whisky or wine for
authenticity without opening the bottle would bring major benefits to the
drinks industry, as well as having opportunities in other fields, such as
airport and airline security.
“The Food and Drink iNet Collaborative Research and Development program is
designed to provide help for innovative research schemes that will benefit the
food and drink sector in the future, and this is one of the more interesting
The team is working with The Scotch Whisky Research Institute and
Leicestershire brewery Everards to help with the research and product trials.