Feeds

Atomsmasher boffins probe duff whisky deluge

Mm, yes, that one's fake too. Put it in my desk

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
FORGET the CLIMATE: FATTIES are a MUCH BIGGER problem - study
Fat guy? Drink or smoke? You're worse than a TERRORIST
'Yes, yes... YES!' Philae lands on COMET 67P
Plucky probot aces landing on high-speed space rock - emotional scenes in Darmstadt
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.