This Handheld Device Can Detect Fake Whisky in Minutes

Eluceda's detectors can identify the unique electrochemical "taste" of different whiskies

Eluceda's handheld device, the E-Sens, being placed by hand in a glass of whisky. The device reportedly can identify counterfeit whisky.
These small devices could save whisky collectors a lot of money.

As whisky becomes more of a luxury investment, worries about authenticity will arise. But a tech company claims it has developed a quick and portable way to tell you if your tipple is genuine.

And it does it by taste. Kind of.

Eluceda is a U.K.-based tech firm that specializes in “lab-in-your-hand” devices to identify different materials and substances. Their new rapid authenticity test for whisky comes in the form of a handheld machine, called the E-Sens, that uses customized electrodes with specific catalysts, which react with the “unique groups of molecules” in whisky to produce a digital fingerprint in minutes. Those readings are then analyzed using algorithms and compared against a database of whisky samples.

Basically, it’s matching an electrochemical “taste” against a confirmed database of samples, which were provided by the Scotch Whisky Research Institute (SWRI).

In a press release, Eluceda claims they’ve been able to “identify genuine whiskies from those that have been diluted with water, ethanol or other whiskies as well as from counterfeits.” 

These E-Sens handheld detectors were already showcased at this month’s Worldwide Distilled Spirits Conference. If more partners come on board, the devices could help could cut into the €1.3 billion (or U.S. $1.5 billion) of lost revenue every year in Europe that’s attributed to counterfeit spirits and wine. A 2018 report suggested that up to a third of rare whisky might be fake; multiple different methods have been attempted to identify fake or tampered bottles (and that includes methods involving lasersartificial tongues and blockchain).


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