A new method for detecting counterfeit whisky has been developed by scientists in Scotland.

Using a ray of light the size of a human hair, the team of researchers at the University of St Andrews claim to have developed a new method for testing whether a whisky is genuine or not. The technique can decipher the brand, age and cask used to create a single malt from a sample no bigger than a teardrop.

Physicist Praveen Ashok, who helped carry out the research, said: “Counterfeiting is rife in the drinks industry, which is constantly searching for new, powerful and inexpensive methods for liquor analysis.

“Using the power of light, we have adapted our technology to address a problem related to an industry which is a crucial part of Scottish culture and economy.”

The method involves placing a tiny amount of whisky on a transparent plastic chip no bigger than a credit card. Using optical fibres the width of a human hair, the whisky sample is illuminated by light using one fibre, and collected by another. By analysing the collection of light scattered from the whisky, it is possible to diagnose the sample.