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Nos.e: the New Device that can sniff out and identify Fake Whiskies

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May 19, 2022

With a whiff, the Nos.e can identify the brand, region and style of whisky

Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the scam out of a whisky dram!

This is what the Nos.e would say if he could speak. No, it is not the name of a fairy tale Giant. The Nos.e is a new piece of technology that can identify fake whiskies. Watch out scammers! There is a new sheriff in town. But how does the Nos.e works?

What’s an E-Nose?

The University of Technology Sydney has developed an electronic device. Apparently, it can spot the brand of a whisky, its region and style. Moreover, the Nos.e can also potentially help identify fake whiskies easier than ever before.

This is not the first time that technology has come to our rescue to guarantee the authenticity of a bottle of whisky.

Sometimes even experts have a hard time detecting near-perfect fakes. Apparently, more than a third of rare and collectable Scotch whiskies in private collections are fake. Hence, the Nos.e can really become a useful tool against all those fraudsters that try to sell fake bottles on the secondary market.

How does the E-Nose work?

The technology was developed by a team led by Associate Professor Steven Su of the University of Technology Sydney. The Nos.e can mimic the human olfactory system with the aid of eight gas sensors. The electronic nose smells a small sample of whisky, evaluates each molecule of scent detected, and finally sends the data to a computer that uses an algorithm to identify the characters of the expression examined.

The Prototype

During the experimentation, the Nos.e was able to differentiate between three blended-malt whiskies and three single-malt whiskies (made by Macallan, Johnnie Walker, Ardbeg, and Chivas Regal). The results were surprising enough. In less than 4 minutes, the prototype was able to identify the region of origin, the brand name and the whisky’s style with a percentage of correctness of almost 100%.

It has to be said, this is not the first tool available that can detect potential fakes. But it is certainly the fastest. In the past, radiocarbon dating has been used to analyse how old a bottle of whisky is. An analysis that certainly takes much longer than the 4 minutes taken by the Nos.e prototype.

The Nos.e machine that can identify Fake Whiskies
The Nos.e prototype

“Up until now, detecting the differences between whiskies has required either a trained whisky connoisseur, who might still get it wrong or complex and time-consuming chemical analysis by scientists in a lab” said Associate Professor Su in a statement released by the University.“So to have a rapid, easy to use, real-time assessment of whisky to identify the quality, and uncover any adulteration or fraud, could be very beneficial for both high-end wholesalers and purchasers”.

This fantastic invention will not only benefit whisky lovers. The team also stated that Nos.e may have a number of applications, such as being able to detect expensive counterfeit perfumes, as well as potentially being able to identify a number of diseases. 

As we say, whisky really does have the power to cure all ills.

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