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Scientists Can Now Use Fluorescent "Tongues" to Identify Fake Whiskey

The only thing worse than fake news is fake booze.
Foto vía Flickr usuario Jeff Drongowski

No one wants to drink fake booze. It's more dangerous and less tasty than the authentic stuff, and still leaves you with a real hangover to boot.

But drinkers are forking over top dollar for real whisky, and with bottles of the brown stuff not getting any cheaper, it only was a matter of time before some scientists with a serious penchant for spirits would develop a method to sniff out the fake—which is more common than one might think—from the real.


According to an article published on Thursday in the journal Chem, researchers have successfully created a test that can weed out fake booze. During their experiment, 33 whiskies from the US, Scotland, and Ireland were exposed to a series of fluorescent dyes, which they referred to as "tongues," mapping out the age, area of origin, and taste, which would light up in a unique pattern for each drink.

By repeating whisky exposure to the dyes, researchers were able to map out "exquisitely sensitive" patterns for each variety, and developed a system that could identify the origin, type, and storage age of the samples using these fluorescent tongues.

The scientists here seemed to be quite confident in their "tongues," though they didn't specify which ones, stating, "Our tongues do not need any sample preparation and are equal or superior to state-of-the-art mass spectrometric methods with respect to speed, resolution, and efficiency of discrimination."

READ MORE: A 'Smart' Wine Bottle Could Solve China's Fake Alcohol Problem

The authors of this study also argued that the research has implications for outside of the lab, as this method could have a direct impact on society and the economy, saying that they plan to "harness in the future to discriminate counterfeit consumer goods," like perfume and alcohol.

"For high-end whiskies, asking prices range from 10,000 to 135,000 euros per bottle," they wrote. "For this type of price, one might worry about counterfeits, but that could also apply at the low end of the quality spectrum, where large amounts of cheap alcoholic beverages and low-quality counterfeits are sold as branded Scotch."

In other words, it's not just the fancy stuff you have to look out for. But, with any luck, the human palate will be a thing of the past, as we may one day be able to whip out our artificial fluorescent tongues at the bar and know for sure what we're drinking. Until then, we'll just have to keep having faith in our trusty barkeeps.