[L’industrie c’est fou] This electronic nose is able to recognize different whiskeys by their smell

The French are the first consumers of whiskey in the world. However, it is necessary to turn to Australia to discover a new technology making it possible to ensure the authenticity of a whisky, and to recognize different brands, origins and styles by using an essential organ for any taster: the nose. “As with any profitable industry, the whiskey market is subject to fraudulent activity, including adulteration”recall researchers at the University of Technology Sydney, who have developed an “electronic nose”.

Named Nos.e, the prototype was trained from three blends and three single malt whiskeys (Johnnie Walker, Ardberg, Chivas Regal, Macallan 12 years old). Eight gas sensors are to detect the different odors. “The sensor array generates a unique signal matrix based on the different odor molecules it comes into contact with”, explain the researchers. A machine learning algorithm trained to recognize whiskey characteristics takes over on a computer. However, the sensors used by the electronic nose are sensitive to humidity and temperature.

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Other potential applications

The technology developed has obtained results similar to the combined use of mass spectrometry and chromatography. After a single test per product, the brand, style and geographical origin of each whiskey tested were determined with an accuracy of over 95%. The outlets for Nos.e are not only in the world of alcohol, with tests carried out on food (to assess their quality) or breath. Perfume manufacturers, also involved in the fight against counterfeiting, could also be interested.

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