Atomsmasher boffins probe duff whisky deluge
Mm, yes, that one's fake too. Put it in my desk
Whisky aficionados are using radiocarbon dating to verify the age of expensive vintages, according to reports. Boffins at the National Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, tasked with checking out various top-end tipples, say that fakes are more common than not.
Dr Tom Higham, talking to the Telegraph, said that he and his team can get best precision with drams distilled since the extensive atmospheric atom-bomb tests of the 1950s. The old-time enthusiasm for letting off nukes above ground heightened levels of atmospheric carbon-14, allowing radiocarbon dating to get a good fix on whiskies made from barley grown in the Cold War era or later.
"It is easy to tell if whisky is fake as if it has been produced since the middle of the twentieth century, it has a very distinctive signature," Dr Higham told the Telegraph.
"With whiskies that are older, we can get a range of dates but we can usually tell which century it came from. The earliest whisky we have dated came from the 1700s and most have been from 19th century.
"So far there have probably been more fakes among the samples we've tested than real examples of old whisky," he added.
Apparently Higham and his team test samples of whisky by burning them and then bombarding the resultant exhaust gases with charged particles so as to measure levels of carbon-14. In one high-profile case they recently unmasked a putative bottle of 1856 Macallan Rare Reserve which had been expected to fetch £20k at auction. However it turned out to be merely fifty-year-old rubbish made in 1950.
In South Korea, all premium whisk(e)y has a government-approved RFID tag on it, allowing drinkers with suitably-equipped phones to check up on the provenance of their chosen alcoholic treat. However this doesn't seem as authoritative a method as having some boffins check it out with an atomsmasher.
Read all about it from the Telegraph here. ®
Mark 1 taste buds
If the human tasting equipment can not instantly and unequivocally tell you the whisky's age, its age doesn't therefore matter. Unless of course, the sure knowledge of the age of your whisky is more important to you than its taste. Get a bottle of Bells, its probably cheaper, you wont know the difference and the outcome is the same.
Mine's the one with the meths stains.
A short taste test should establish how good a whisky is. Most distilleries have a panel of people with good "noses". They usually contain management, production and admin workers and sometimes gardeners. Whisky does not improve after it is bottled. Very few improve in the cask beyond 15 years. Ancient whiskies are a marketing gimmick though if anyone wants to send me a 50 year old Macallan I am prepared to subject it to a rigorous testing procedure.
Mine is the one with the Macallan 15 year old in the pocket.
"After all the various nuclear accidents that have more or less flooded the whole stratosphere with radiation how do these self appointed gourmet boffins claim to be able to pick out these things? Next thing you know they'll spot Sputnik or Mir flying over the distillery. So, they can tell the difference between Bikini and Chernobyl? If they truly can I guess it's a whole new way to market vintage whiskey to yuppie idiots with more money than sense. You can glow in the dark with your favorite flavor of nuclear fallout."
Hmm. I think the following saying is useful here.
"It is better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."
Why do people feel the need to comment about things when they have not the slightest clue about them? Oh sorry, I forgot that I was on the Internet.