07/28/2011 11:47 am ET | Updated Sep 27, 2011

Fake Whisky Testing Gets New Boost From Science

Good Scotch whisky costs way too much to pay for a fake. But high prices also mean that would-be-counterfeiters have a strong incentive to enter the market. As a result, fake whiskies have flooded the market in recent years.

Lucky for connoisseurs, though, scientists have been hard at work developing tests for the veracity of whiskies. The newest method, which measures ethanol concentration, has the potential to lead to a portable test that bars and collectors could easily use. Other recently developed tests include one that uses spectroscopy to analyze whisky colors and another that uses Carbon-14 dating to pinpoint the year of bottling. These tests are especially important for testing the provenance of the fourth whisky one is trying in a night; at that point, subjective taste alone often fails to distinguish between Lao-Lao and Macallan 1926.

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