Researchers at the University of Manchester want to put the ability to determine the authenticity of alcohol in the hands of consumers.
With alcohol being a major food export for the European Union and with roughly 1 million jobs connected to that specific industry, researchers wanted to create a device that would assure consumers that their vodkas and whiskeys were genuine.
The handheld device, called SORS (spatially offset Raman spectroscopy), can correctly analyze the chemical makeup of contents concealed in objects such as glass bottles using a laser.
Currently available for use in security, hazmat detection and pharmaceutical analysis, the SORS device will be the first of its kind applied to the food and beverage industry.
"Food and beverage counterfeiting comes with the very real potential for serious health, economic and social consequences, especially when it comes to alcohol products," said MIB Professor Roy Goodacre, who led the research. "An essential part of ensuring consumer confidence is to provide assurance that these products are authentic and have not been either contaminated or counterfeited."
Detailing their work in the journal Nature, the researchers tested the device on 150 brands of scotch whiskey, vodka, rum and gin. Not only was the device able to successfully distinguish the authentic spirits from the counterfeit ones, the device could also distinguish between different brands of whiskey.