Scientists have invented a new 'artificial tongue' that essentially does the job of a real, human tongue, all credit goes to its different taste buds. Well, believe it or not, this device is claimed to be really good at picking out real whisky from fake whisky.
The brain behind 'Artificial Tongue'
Scientists from the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde are the brain behind this artificial tongue. It can taste subtle differences between drams of whisky using properties in gold and aluminium.
This way, it can test differences between spirits and could be ultimately used to help cut down on the trade in counterfeit alcohol.
In a paper published on Tuesday in the Royal Society of Chemistry's journal 'Nanoscale', the engineers describe how they built the tiny taster.
Scientists used the device to sample a selection of famous Scotch whiskies from some of the well-known brands such as Glenfiddich, Glen Marnoch and Laphroaig in their experiment.
"We call this an artificial tongue because it acts similarly to a human tongue like us, it can't identify the individual chemicals which make coffee taste different to apple juice but it can easily tell the difference between these complex chemical mixtures," said Alasdair Clark, of the University of Glasgow's School of Engineering and the paper's lead author.
"We're not the first researchers to make an artificial tongue, but we're the first to make a single artificial tongue that uses two different types of nanoscale metal 'tastebuds', which provides more information about the 'taste' of each sample and allows a faster and more accurate response.
"While we've focused on whisky in this experiment, the artificial tongue could easily be used to 'taste' virtually any liquid, which means it could be used for a wide variety of applications. In addition to its obvious potential for use in identifying counterfeit alcohols, it could be used in food safety testing, quality control, security really any area where a portable, reusable method of tasting would be useful," he said.
How it works
The device has sub-microscopic slices of gold and aluminium act as the tastebuds.
As part of testing, scientists poured samples of whisky over the tastebuds. These tastebuds are about 500 times smaller than their human equivalents. Scientists then measured how they absorb light while submerged.
The device was able to differentiate between the drinks with greater than 99 per cent accuracy. The device was also capable of picking up on the distinctions between the same whisky aged in different barrels.
It could also tell the difference between the same whisky aged for 12, 15 and 18 years.
(With inputs from PTI)