Scientists battle fake Scotch with water testing

7th July, 2014 by Amy Hopkins

Forensic scientists have developed a new technique to battle counterfeit Scotch whisky brands, by identifying whether the water used to make the spirit actually originates from Scotland.

Whisky counterfeit

Researchers have discovered a new way to single out counterfeit Scotch whisky brands, by testing the provenance of the water from which they are made

As reported by The Times, a new isotope experiment is being used to test the “signature” of the water from each Scotch whisky region, enabling researchers to discover bogus “Scotch” whiskies created overseas.

According to EU law, products labeled as Scotch whisky must be distilled in Scotland using water and malted barley to which only grains or other cereals may be added.

The Scotch industry has long-suffered from counterfeit brands, which are said to cost the sector £500 million a year, accounting for 10% of its total sales.

UK trade body the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) objected to 100 registered whisky trademarks in 2013, claiming they did not adhere to official definitions. The association usually battles 70 counterfeit Scotch whisky brands at any given time.

However, researchers at James Hutton Institute in Dundee and Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen are now attempting to identify fakes through isotope “signatures” found in water, which point to the liquid’s geographical, chemical, geological and biological provenance.

Dr Wolfram Meier-Augenstein, professor of isotope forensics at Robert Gordon University, told The Times that by comparing the isotope ratio of authentic whisky with that of fake Scotch brands, researchers can “tell if it matches the characteristics of the genuine article”.

“Rather than looking for a needle in a haystack, we are reducing the size of the haystack,” he said.

“The provenance of the barley can be a bit of a grey area, as it is sometimes sourced from England in years when there has been a poor yield north of the border, but the water used to make the mash is usually sourced as locally as possible to the distillery.”

The SWA has welcomed the new technique, claiming that the industry is always “interested in exploring different techniques that may assist our product authentication efforts”.

Leave a Reply

If that's interesting, how about these?

Glenfiddich to air short film in Mad Men finale

Glenfiddich will debut its new advertisement depicting the brand's US launch more...

F1 boss will not ban alcohol sponsorship

The president of Formula One has said that a ban on alcohol sponsorship in the more...

'Drunk in love' concept backed by science

A recent study explored the effects of 'love hormone' oxytocin and found that more...

Bloody Mary cocktails taste better in aeroplanes

A new study has revealed that the Bloody Mary cocktail tastes better if more...

Gordon & MacPhail launches Benromach 15YO

Gordon & MacPhail has expanded its Benromach single malt Scotch whisky more...

Scotch distilleries report record number of visitors

A record-breaking 1.5 million people visited Scotland’s Scotch whisky more...

New cocktail delivery service eyes US launch

A cocktail kit subscription and delivery service is seeking funding of more...

Calls for F1 alcohol sponsorship ban increase

The “dangerous cocktail” of advertising and sponsorships by groups such as more...

Brown-Forman hands control to new generation

Jack Daniel’s producer Brown-Forman has appointed two fifth generation more...

Cocktail demand fends off 'inevitable' gin fallout

Global cocktail culture is continuing to drive gin sales onwards and upwards, more...

NZ doctors call for teen booze ban in bars

The New Zealand Medical Association has recommended banning teenagers from more...

Glenrothes distillery planning application withdrawn

A planning application for a new distillery in Glenrothes, Scotland, that would more...

Top 10 new Scotch whisky distilleries

As the Scotch industry hails a boom in tourism and all-time-high investment, more...

Director of Tequila Chamber to step down

The director general of the National Chamber of the Tequila Industry (CNIT) more...

Alcohol intake miscalculated by 120m units a week

English drinkers are underestimating their alcohol consumption by 120 million more...

Distillery unveils small batch whiskey programme

Sugarlands Distilling Company has launched The Whiskey Project at their more...

Quintessential hires Monarq as exclusive importer

Quintessential Brands has appointed Monarq Group as its exclusive importer, more...

Booze boasting on Facebook sways teen drinking

Pictures and status updates on Facebook which exaggerate users' drinking habits more...

Pioneering Scotch whisky experiments

Rather than bemoaning another set of regulations, these Scotch whisky producers more...

Big and small US distillers hail new tax bill

Members of the US spirits industry have hailed the introduction of a new bill more...