Fake Whisky Detected By An Artificial Tongue

Friday, August 16th, 2019 | 2149 Views

Scientists from Glasgow have developed an artificial “tongue” which can detect subtle differences between whiskies, in hope to tackle the counterfeit alcohol trade. In a paper titled “Whisky tasting using a bimetallic nanoplasmonic tongue”, the team describes how this optical tongue device was developed and how it uses the optical properties of two metals to “taste”.

Sub-microscopic slices of gold and aluminium are arranged to act as taste buds, which measures light absorbed when submerged in whisky. The team demonstrated that the device was able to differentiate the drinks with 99 percent accuracy.

“We call this an artificial tongue because it acts similarly to a human tongue—like us, it can’t identify the individual chemicals which make coffee taste different to apple juice but it can easily tell the difference between these complex chemical mixtures,” said Dr Alasdair Clark, the paper’s lead author, at the University of Glasgow’s School of Engineering.

Not only will this device be helpful in detecting counterfeit whisky, it also has the potential to “taste” any liquid—opening doors to a wide range of applications in food safety.

“In addition to its obvious potential for use in identifying counterfeit alcohols, it could be used in food safety testing, quality control, security—really any area where a portable, reusable method of tasting would be useful,” added Dr Clark.