Now, a technology to spot fake whiskey

The technique, developed by a team from the University of Leicester, relies on detecting the differences between the characteristics of light reflected from the liquid inside the bottle or its label.

A white light is shone through the liquid and the spectrometer -- originally designed for astronomical research -- analyses whether the signature matches that of the genuine article or not, the NewScientist reported.

"It's really important with whiskies and in wines is that you don't open the bottle and destroy the product," said George Fraser of the university's Space Research Centre, where the spectrometer was first developed.

"What you have to try to do is find a way of multiple measurements through the glass and the liquid which allows us to factor out a signature, spectrally, which is characteristic of that liquid," he said.

"There is a surface measurement of the bottle and case, but there is also a through-the-bottle transmission measurement which lets you characterise the liquid."

The team believe the technology could also be applied to analyse liquids in airports.

Apart from taste, fake spirits can contain high levels of methanol, a chemical that can cause liver damage, blindness, coma, breathing difficulties and even death.

In 2009 it was revealed that radiocarbon-dating can also be used to spot fake spirits by discovering how much carbon-14 they contain.

And liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry has also been used to pinpoint the unique compounds present in several delicious Trappist ales.

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