Whisky is made from fermented grain mash. Different grains like e.g. wheat, barley or corn, which may be malted, can be used to make different types of whisky. Another component responsible for the taste of the final product is the ageing process in wooden casks. This ageing can take from months to decades and is an important criterion for the quality and also the price of the whisky. As you see, there are many components and steps until you reach the final high quality product. But as in all branches of luxury or expensive products, there is always the risk that someone tries to sell you a product of minor quality. Testing the quality of whiskies with sensor arrays is difficult to impossible, but the groups of Andreas Herrmann and his collaborator Uwe Bunz (Heidelberg University, Germany) have found a way using fluorescend labels to actually do the job. In their array they were able to "differentiate more than 30 whiskies according to their differential fluorescence intensity modulation along the axes of age, area of origin, and taste." A new step in safeguarding the quality of the luxury good whisky, but also with possibilities to transfer the concept for testing of wine, perfumes, prescription drugs etc. Thereby, it may provide a new inexpensive way to guarantee food and prescription drug safety, thus not only a leap for the whisky-lovers but for all of us.
For more information read the full article, a feature on digitaltrends.com or another feature on the website of Science.
Reference: A Hypothesis-Free Sensor Array Discriminates Whiskies for Brand, Age, and Taste; Jinsong Han, Chao Ma, Benhua Wang, Markus Bender, Maximilian Bojanowski, Marcel Hergert, Kai Seehafer, Andreas Herrmann, Uwe H.F. Bunz; Chem Volume 2, Issue 6, p817–824, 8 June 2017 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chempr.2017.04.008
Contact: Prof. Andreas Herrmann
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