Last year we reported how fraudsters were serving cheap whisky to unsuspecting customers.
Now Diageo has made a major breakthrough in the battle against whisky counterfeiters by designing a hand-held machine that can identify fakes.
The new machine, which will cost £5000 is expected to be used widely by trading standards officers in the United Kingdom, solves the problem of how to identify faked whisky without laboratory analysis.
The issue of decanting cheap products into expensive bottles has long been a problem in pubs, bars and clubs. While most outlets are law-abiding, a proportion, particularly in high volume outlets where spirits tends to be mixed, have been guilty of targeting.
So great is the problem that Diageo worked with trading standards officers to introduce a testing kit for its products. But while a litmus test will identify a fake bottle of Smirnoff or Gordon’s, strict rules governing Scotch meant that nothing could be added to the spirit to make the litmus test work.
Only when a fake bottle of something else was found could whisky samples be sent for analysis. And there is some evidence that as a result some outlets went as far as only faking the whisky, knowing a standard trading standards test couldn’t identify the fraud.
Now that’s set to end.
The new machine can complete a test in the outlet quickly and efficiently. It identifies the components in the whisky and quickly matches them up to those of the brand it is purporting to be. Each brand of whisky has its own ‘brand DNA.’
It is not the first time that such a machine has been trialled but in the past any attempts at a hand-held unit tended to be too expensive or too inaccurate.
The Scotch Whisky Association has welcomed the introduction of the new device, which will hit the high street in spring.