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Whisky gets busy

Tuesday 26th July 2011
Courtesy. The Black Grouse, Mathew Gloag & Son, Perth.

As the Whisky Festival 29 September - 3 October gets publicity and World Whisky Day is launched for March 27th 2012; Laphroaig (never rushed) is to get a new website next week to handle its 73,000 global friends; Black Grouse buyers are contributing 50p per bottle to Royal Society for Protection for Birds to conserve the remaining 5,000 only male black grouse and Strathclyde University devises a method to determine if whisky samples are genuine or imitation.

Back in March, the Scotch Whisky Research Institute was supporting experts at the University of Leicester’s Space Research Centre, working with colleagues at De Montfort University to create a handheld device that will detect fake whisky and wine – through the bottle. Leicester experts can already spot counterfeit medicines by scrutinising the packaging, and the technology now has experts working to transfer this to analyse liquids in bottles.

Now, reports the BBC, Glasgow's Strathclyde University has a method that examines ethanol concentration in undiluted samples and the residue of dried whisky. It does not involve expensive lab-based analysis. The new method compares whisky samples to determine if they are what it says on the label or an imitation brand.

Research was led by Professor David Littlejohn from the university's department of pure and applied chemistry whose researcher analysed 17 samples of blended whisky. The levels of ethanol and colourant led them to identify correctly the eight authentic and nine counterfeit samples.

"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 quickly," says  Prof Littlejohn.

"There's a growing need for methods that can provide simpler and faster identification and we have developed a system 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 the economy."

Financial support for the project was provided by the Scottish Funding Council, Fibre Photonics Ltd and WestCHEM, a joint research school formed by the Universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow. Could be it's on display at the next Whisky Festival, Speyside.

Gaberlunzie brooding on the importance of peat to malt whiskies, wonders whatever became of a research project into the viability of growing peatlands in Scotland. 

He notices that peatlands are of considerable interest to those concerned with carbon sequestration, and can recommend Peat Bogs and Peat and Carbon as really intriguing read.

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