Project manager Guy Peters at the University of Leicester demonstrates the technology

New technologies developed to crack down on fake whisky

Counterfeit whisky and wine could be stamped out by a new handheld device that can analyse liquids through bottles.

Scientists at the University of Leicester’s Space Research Centre have teamed up with De Montfort University colleagues to develop the technology which they say could also be applied to airline security systems.

The University of Leicester team originally developed the technology from a spectrometer designed and built by the Space Research Centre for astronomical research, which was used in the pharmaceutical industry to spot counterfeit medicines.

The technology works by detecting the differences between the characteristics of light reflected from printed packaging.

The team now wants to create a handheld device which can analyse liquids in bottles with the help of De Montford University colleagues skilled in product design and rapid proto-typing.

Tim Maskell, knowledge transfer manager in the Space Research Centre at the University of Leicester, said: “We can design, build and test a laboratory prototype that will allow us to prove the technology works.

“If we can then take the technology and do something similar with other liquids there are potential airport security opportunities too.”

The researchers are working with the Scotch Whisky Research Institute and Leicestershire brewery Everards to help with the research and product trials, and have received £50,000 funding from the Food and Drink iNet.

The project is one of five Collaborative Research and Development grants worth a total of more than £235,000 announced by the Food and Drink iNet which provides support for business innovation in the food and drink industry.

“This is a fascinating research project which brings together space technology and the food and drink sector and offers real commercial benefit,” said food and drink iNet director Richard Worrall.

“Being able to test a liquid such as whisky or wine for authenticity without opening the bottle would bring major benefits to the drinks industry, as well as having opportunities in other fields, such as airport and airline security.”

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