Carbon dating catching whisky cheats

From Scientific American magazine

Carbon dating, a valuable tool for placing ancient archaeological finds in context, is now being applied to date more modern treasures: pricey bottles of Scotch.

... 20th-century nuclear tests ... left their mark in the isotope record, significantly boosting levels of atmospheric carbon 14, the radioactive form of the element that researchers measure in carbon dating. ...

Stakes are high in the antique whiskey business -- a bottle of 1926 Macallan fetched $54,000 at Christie's New York in 2007 -- and forgeries appear to be commonplace.

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Martin Hill said...

This technique only works for dead organic material. I don’t know how this will fit into a whisky test.

It is said we can also use natural background levels of radioactivity to identify whiskies that were made in earlier centuries. Remember carbon 14 dating is not great for dating things like a year-old because if much less than one half-life has passed, barely any of the carbon 14 has decayed, and it is difficult to measure the difference in rates and know with certainty the time involved.

Bert Flores said...

Carbon-14 dating is a way of determining the age of certain archeological artifacts of a biological origin up to about 50,000 years old.

It is used in dating things such as bone, cloth, wood and plant fibers that were created in the relatively recent past by human activities. I don’t think it will be successful in checking whiskies.

William M. Dowd said...

All whiskies are of “biological origin.” Items being tested do not have to be solids.

According to the people doing the research, such a process already is yielding results and weeding out counterfeit products.