Engineers from the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde have developed a new artificial ‘tongue’ that can detect fake whiskey.

Scientists said that the new device can taste the subtle differences between drams of whiskey with more than 99% accuracy.

The tiny taster makes use of the optical properties of gold and aluminium to test the tipples.

Arranged in a checkerboard pattern, the sub-microscopic slices of the two metals serve as the ‘tastebuds’ for the artificial tongue.

To test the device, researchers poured small samples of whiskey over the tastebuds and measured how they absorb light while submerged.

The team was able to identify different whiskies based on the subtle differences highlighted on the artificial tongue.

For this test, the team of engineers used different brands of whiskies including Glenfiddich, Glen Marnoch and Laphroaig.

The team noted that their artificial ‘tongue’ device was able to pick even the subtle distinctions between the same whiskey aged in different barrels, as well as tell the difference between the same whiskey aged for 12, 15 and 18 years.

University of Glasgow’s school of engineering official and paper’s lead author Dr Alasdair Clark said: “We call this an artificial tongue because it acts similarly to a human tongue. Like us, it can’t identify the individual chemicals which make coffee taste different to apple juice but it can easily tell the difference between these complex chemical mixtures.

“We’re not the first researchers to make an artificial tongue, but we’re the first to make a single artificial tongue that uses two different types of nanoscale metal ‘tastebuds’, which provides more information about the ‘taste’ of each sample and allows a faster and more accurate response.

“While we’ve focused on whiskey in this experiment, the artificial tongue could easily be used to ‘taste’ virtually any liquid, which means it could be used for a wide variety of applications.”

The research received funding backup from Leverhulme Trust, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.