How to spot a fake

Physicists at the University of Saint Andrews, Scotland, have developed a tool to make sure the whisky you’ve spent your hard earned cash on isn’t a fake.

Using the principles of ‘spectroscopy’, (that’s ‘the study of the interaction between matter and radiated energy’ to you and me, thank-you Mr. Wikipedia), the team have created a device which, when put together, looks like a flat piece of plastic, (polymethylsiloxane to be precise), a couple of centimetres thick with 4 channels in it all leading to the centre. When put into action, 2 channels will contain your precious whisky and the other 2 fibre optic cables connected to the spectrometer.

The device is useful for 2 things. Firstly it tests the level of alcohol,  (a note to any budding whisky distillers, you need 40% alcohol to qualify), and secondly it checks for certain essential chemicals, (collectively called ‘congeners’), and traces of wood from the barrels the whisky would have been matured in.

By comparing samples, scientists have been able to deduce a whisky’s brand, age and even the type of cask. So quite a clever bit of kit for all you gadget-enthusiasts, for others, it’s quite good information for the pub quiz.


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