Whiskey price

Researchers have created a QR code that can detect fake whiskey – Robb Report

What if we told you that the next time you take a sip of whiskey, you could commit to cutting-edge anti-counterfeiting measures?

Well, it could soon be, as a global research team has created an edible QR code to help tell real whiskey from fake. The small label could be useful not only with alcoholic beverages, but also with counterfeit pharmaceuticals.

“Counterfeit items, such as drugs and alcohol, are big problems around the world,” Young Kim of Purdue University said in a statement. “There are many examples of large quantities of fake drugs being sold around the world, which in some cases are killing people.”

Researchers Jungwoo Leem and Young Kim

Purdue University/John Underwood

Kim and her team created the tags by processing fluorescent silk cocoons from specialized silkworms to create a biopolymer, which can be formed into different patterns to encode information. They then put the labels in different brands of whiskey at different price points over the course of 10 months, activating the QR code with a smartphone app to determine the drink’s authenticity.

Luckily, the labels are both fully edible and digestible, so you won’t have to worry about getting them out of your bottle or glass. And they don’t affect the taste of the whiskey in any way – welcome whiskey connoisseurs among us.

Currently, labels are not placed on whiskeys that are on the market, but the idea is that eventually they will be and everyday consumers will be able to know if their whiskey is up to snuff. “Spirits are vulnerable to counterfeiting,” research team member Jungwoo Leem said in a statement. “There are a lot of fake whiskeys being sold.” In fact, 18% of adults in the UK have purchased counterfeit spirits.

The team chose whiskey for their first round of research because of the drink’s high alcohol content (40% alcohol by volume), but QR codes could extend to other alcoholic beverages as well as to drugs, making them perhaps the first widely useful QR codes in existence.