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Scottish University Taps Blockchain Tech to Fight Whisky Fakes

Anti-tamper bottle tags and the blockchain tracking platform from Everledger are being deployed to help tackle the trade in counterfeit whiskies.

Dec 18, 2020 at 1:41 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:45 a.m. UTC

The University of Glasgow is tapping technology from blockchain provenance startup Everledger to tackle fraud in the Scottish whisky industry.

  • An agreement announced Friday will see the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC) at the Glasgow institution using Everledger's anti-tamper bottle tags and blockchain platform to track rare whiskies.
  • SUERC has been tasked with finding ways to authenticate whisky provenance by producers, retailers, auction houses and collectors.
  • The center's researchers estimate the market for vintage single-malt Scotch whiskies was valued at £57.7 million ($78 million) in 2018. SUERC believes that around 40% of all rare vintage whiskies in circulation may be fake.
  • In 2018, the center found that out of 55 bottles of rare Scotch it had tested, 21 bottles were either fake or not distilled in the year indicated on the label.
  • The researchers can tell the fake malt whisky samples from the genuine ones by removing small samples through the cork and interpreting the radiocarbon data in a laboratory.
  • "By being granted unprecedented access to samples of the world’s rarest whiskies, its researchers have created a unique radiocarbon dating curve which is now used to determine the age of all types of vintage whiskies," the university said.
  • Everledger's NFC-enabled bottle caps and blockchain network are expected to help protect stakeholders along the commercial chain from counterfeit products.
  • “One aspect of the process that has eluded us is securing a permanent digital record of a whisky’s origin and age,” said Elaine Dunbar, research scientist at SUERC. "We are therefore absolutely delighted to establish a partnership with Everledger [that] will provide a lasting seal and a digital record of the whisky and details of its radiocarbon analysis."

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