The machines can spot fake whiskies and other spirits in
seconds. They are hand held battery operated devices originally developed for Diageo in a clampdown on substitution – the refilling of branded spirits with cheap alternatives and bootlegged alcohols in pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels.
In the United Kingdom alone, counterfeiters had been ripping off consumers to the tune of £44 million a year by charging premium price for inferior alcohol. With eight per cent of on-licensed premises – one in every 12 – substituting at least one spirit brand.
The recent success of the authenticity dipsticks for white spirits has reduced this figure to less than three per cent.
With a little help from the brand authenticator, which can also be used on other spirits such as rum and brandy, that figure is likely to drop even further. The device is to be rolled out to trading standards officers this year.
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