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Gas chramatography-pyrolysis-isotope ratio mass spectrometry applied to authenticity of whiskey production methods
Project Code: Q02010
Central Science Laboratory
1. This report describes the research completed by the Central Science Laboratory for the FSA project Q02010 ‘Gas chromatography-isotope ratio mass spectrometry applied to authenticating whisky production methods”
2. The objective of this project was to develop robust isotopic methods to investigate two types of adulteration of Scotch whisky, i.e. the substitution of alcohol derived from a cereal based source with that from a cheaper non-cereal based source (e.g. beet or cane molasses) and the addition of flavourings, such as vanillin, to disguise a lack of maturity.
3. The measurement of δ13C‰ values of ethanol and individual congeners in whisky was achieved using gas chromatography-combustion-isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GC-C-IRMS). The GC-C-IRMS technique was also used to determine the δ13C‰ values of vanillin and other phenolic compounds present in whisky. The low concentration of congeners and phenolic compounds present in the whisky samples prevented the measurement of δ2H‰ and δ18O‰ using the technique of gas chromatography–pyrolysis-isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GC-Py- IRMS).
4. A good correlation was found between the δ13C‰ value of propan-1-ol and the δ13C‰ value of ethanol for each whisky sample. By comparing the δ13C‰ value of ethanol with the δ13C‰ value of propanol it would be possible to detect levels of neutral spirit addition (down to 25 % of total ethanol content) which could go undetected by present methods using GC measurement of congener concentrations.
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