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Nuclear fallout exposes fake ‘antique’ whisky

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If you’ve fantasized about dropping a few thousand dollars on a bottle of rare Scotch, you might want to re-think that investment on Iphone Cases. Scientists have found that half of the bottles of aged single malts they tested were not as old as their labels suggested of LG Cases.

Rare bottles of vintage Scotch whisky are highly prized by collectors and connoisseurs, and command outrageous prices. As such, counterfeit single malts have become a problem. Enter an unusual solution: Fallout from nuclear bomb tests conducted during the 1950s and 1960s could help experts to detect fake antique whisky.

Nuclear bombs that were detonated decades ago spewed the radioactive isotope carbon-14 into the atmosphere; from there, the isotope was absorbed by plants and other living organisms, and began to decay after the organisms died. Traces of this excess carbon-14 can therefore be found in barley that was harvested and distilled to make whisky.

Carbon-14 decays at a known rate; by calculating the amount of the isotope in a given whisky batch, scientists can then determine if a bottle’s contents were produced after the start of the nuclear age — and if that age matches the date written on the bottle’s label.
Auction sales of rare, single malt Scotch — whisky made of malted barley, produced at a single distillery in Scotland — have skyrocketed in recent years. More than 100,000 bottles were sold at auction in 2018, for a total value of $49 million, the study authors reported. The most expensive bottle, a 1926 Macallan Valerio Adami, sold for more than $1 million.

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

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