Researchers, led by Praveen Ashok at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, have developed a technology for quickly analyzing whiskey and its authenticity. The new device is a plastic microfluidic chip machined with small channels to allow entry and exit of the whiskey. Two addition channels are at right angles to the fluid inlet; one is for a fiber optic cable to deliver a laser light source to the whiskey, while the second is for signal transmission back to a spectrometer.

The spectrometer identifies the whiskey based on its organics, called congeners, which vary depending on the grains used for distilling the alcohol, the type of barrels it is aged in and the length of aging. Although spectrometry is not new, implementing the chip prevents loss of any whiskey due to evaporation and speeds up the analysis so that it is completed in less than one minute. Another interesting finding was that different drinks produced signature background fluorescent light when subjected to the laser source. This suggests that the new technology could be used to determine whether or not the drink you received from the bar is really the one that you ordered.

Watch more coverage of this story, and others, on This Week in Engineering!



Masters Discovery Tool

iPhone/iPad App

Android App