Handheld device can detect counterfeit whisky and wine

Researchers at Leicester University’s Space Research Centre are working with colleagues at De Montfort University to create a handheld device that will detect fake whisky and wine through the bottles they are contained in.

The research project to crack down on counterfeit whisky and wine is being supported by the Food and Drink iNet.

The technique used by the device will rely on detecting the characteristics of light reflected from printed packaging on the bottles using spectroscopic imaging.

The technology has already been adapted for use in the pharmaceutical world by the Leicester team in conjunction with university spin-out company Perpetuity Research and Consultancy International, a specialist crime and security consultancy.

Now the technique is being re-purposed again for use in detecting fake liquids, with experts at De Montfort University providing skills in product design and rapid prototyping so that a handheld device can be created.

’The support from the Food and Drink iNet will allow us to take the technology and apply it in the case of whisky and fine wines,’ said Tim Maskell, knowledge transfer manager in the Space Research Centre at Leicester University.

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 co-ordinates innovation support for businesses, universities and individuals working in the food and drink sector in the East Midlands. The team has been awarded £50,000 towards the almost £71,000 cost of the research project.

The team is working with the Scotch Whisky Research Institute and Leicestershire brewery Everards to help with the research and product trials.