You know what's great? Really good scotch whiskey. You know what's not great? Fake scotch whiskey. Worry not. Researchers at St Andrews University have figured out how to test your whiskey's authenticity by shooting it with lasers.
Here's how it works. Researchers put a drop of whiskey on a chip the that's about the size of a credit card. They then use a couple of fibre optics (no thicker than human hairs), one of which lights it up, while the other analyses it. The technique analyses the fluorescence of whisky and the scattering of light when it interacts with molecules, which is called its Raman signature. They claim to be able to determine the whiskey's its brand, age and cask. Pretty incredible if it's true. I wonder how they plan on compiling this database, though? Do they expect distilleries to give them a bottle from every batch? If so, how do I join these guys?
There's good news and bad news here. The good news is that they only need a single drop of whiskey in order to determine not only its authenticity, but waste more than a single droplet of that golden elixer and you'd have me rioting. The bad news, well, you have get a drop out, which means you need to open the bottle. That in itself means it's not going to be much use to us consumers, directly. It's more for distributers or stores who are buying in bulk and want to make sure they're getting a crate of the real McCoy. Those types won't mind sacrificing a bottle for the greater good. On the flip side of the coin, you would have to pry that bottle of Lagavulin out of my cold, dead, drunk hands. [BBC News]