Indians invent laser test to
identify fake whisky
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Indian researchers in Scotland have invented
a laser test to identify fake whisky from genuine scotch malt.
New Delhi: Their invention could save distilleries and bars millions of
pounds in Asia where counterfeit whisky is big business but knowledge of
single malts is rare.
Police in India and other Asian countries regularly uncover fake whisky
rackets in which organised gangs buy empty bottles, print their own labels,
and mix genuine Scotch with cheap local whiskies, or even whisky-flavoured
rums, to pass them off as aged single malts.
Last year they discovered a Delhi-based gang ma
king more than £60,000 per month passing off a
mix of two Indian whiskies – Bagpiper, popular with Indian truck drivers, and
Signature, another local blend, as Johnnie Walker and Chivas Regal blends and
Glenfiddich single malt.
But a new invention by three Indian physicists at St Andrews University could
have uncovered the scam in a two second test.
Their device fires a micro-laser beam through a tiny drop of the suspect scotch
to establish its alcohol content and colour clarity.
They established the exact alcohol levels of several different whiskies of
various ages, including Highland whiskies like Glenmorangie, Speysides like
Macallan and peaty Islay drams like Ardbeg to compare them with potential
They discovered most fake whiskies have less than the 40 per cent alcohol
characteristic of most single malts.
In their report, published in the scientific journal Optics Express, Praveen
Ashok, Kishan Dholakia and Bavishna Praveen, said their test had made possible
the development of a hand-held device which could test for counterfeit drinks
and deliver authoritative results within seconds.
They said it could also establish the origin, cask type and age of a whisky – a
skill few human palettes have mastered.