The nuclear disaster puts a fake ‘antique’ whiskies

Close-up detail of an old whiskey box with all the stuff. Very sharp. The RAW materials processed.

If you have fantasized about dropping a couple thousand dollars on a bottle of rare Whiskey, you might want to re-think the investment. Scientists have found out that half of the bottles are in the age range of single malts, they have been not, as long as their labels are presented.

Rare bottles of vintage Scotch whisky, are highly sought after by collectors and connoisseurs, and command outrageous prices. As such, imitation of single malts have become a problem. Enter the demons: the Consequences of nuclear bomb tests conducted during the 1950’s and 1960’s, it would help to have the experts on detecting fake antique whisky.

Nuclear bombs were exploded decades ago, the sputtering of the radioactive isotope carbon-14 in the atmosphere, where the isotope was absorbed by the plants and other living organisms, and it began to decompose after the organism has died. The traces of this excessive amount of carbon-14 can be found at the barley was harvested and distilled to make whiskey.

Carbon-14 decays at a known rate; the calculation of the amount of the isotope in a particular whiskey, batch to batch, scientists can determine if a bottle, the contents of which were produced after the start of the nuclear age and that the age matches the date on the bottle label.

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An auction of rare single malt Scotch whisky is made from malted barley produced at a single distillery in Scotland and has grown over the past few years. Of the more than 100,000 bottles have been sold at auction, by 2018, for a total cost of $49 million, the co-authors of the study have been reported. The most expensive bottle, is a 1926 Macallan Valerio Adami, was sold for more than $1 million.

“This massive increase in interest in the purchase of these rare products, such as investment, which has resulted in an accompanying increase in the production of fraudulent products that are difficult to detect,” the scientists wrote.

Techniques such as infrared spectroscopy or chemical analysis, can be divorced from the real whisky from counterfeits by acquiring and comparing the different aspects of their alcohol in the composition, and the proportions of the volatile compounds. However, these methods are not able to confirm that there is a whiskey of its age, according to the study.

Scientists, using the Radiocarbon Laboratory, Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC) in Glasgow, Scotland, I realized that the precise dating of the whisky is based on the carbon-14 content can be a problem, such as the barley is harvested, it can be stored for a year before being sent to a distillery. The researchers have adjusted for this by creating a calibration curve, refer it to one of the carbon-14 data is from the whisky, with a known range of years from 1950 until the end of 2015.

Then it is evaluated at said to be of rare whiskies from 1847 to 1978, and found that nearly half of the bottles weren’t as old as they should be. A bottle was a Talisker with a label that it was distilled in 1863, was most likely distilled from 2007 to 2014. A bottle of Ardbeg in 1964 and was most likely compiled since 1995 and is a Laphroaig labeled in 1903, and is dated from 2011 or later.

In other words, in spite of the hefty price tags that some of the rare whiskies, and order in the auction, it seems that the money you sink into the luxury Scotch will not be as much of a sure thing as you had hoped for, according to the study.

“Our experience has shown that there are a significant number of the fake products that are being sold,” the researchers reported.

The findings were published online Jan. 8 in the journal Radiocarbon.

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Originally published on Live Science.

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