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Blockchain to be used to combat Scotch whisky counterfeiting

Everledger and SUERC are working together to analyse whiskies and provide anti-tamper bottle closures

There has been increasing interest in rare vintage whiskies over the last few years, which in 2019, reportedly racked up a total of £57.7 million in sales. However, it is estimated that up to 40% of those in circulation could be fake, according to research by the Scottish Universities Environment Research Centre (SUERC) of the University of Glasgow. Now, blockchain technology could help combat this issue.

Digital transparency company Everledger announced on Friday that they had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with SUERC to tackle counterfeiting in the Scotch whisky industry. SUERC’s proprietary technology will be used in analysing the contents of bottles to authenticate the provenance. The bottles will then be protected with intelligent Everledger anti-tamper bottle closures and connected to the blockchain using Near Field Communication (NFC) tags.

With unprecedented access to rare whiskies, SUERC researchers have developed a system that uses radiocarbon dating to pinpoint when a whisky was distilled to within a couple of years. As their customers also wanted to protect against tampering with a bottle after it had been dated, SUERC elected to use Everledger’s intelligent bottle caps and blockchain platform.

After the dating process, an NFC-powered tamper detection label is added to the bottle cap and the whisky is given a unique digital identity. This is stored on the blockchain along with future chain-of-custody data, meaning that the provenance of a bottle and its lifetime journey can be viewed with the tap of a smartphone.

As well as wine and spirits, the Everledger platform has been improving transparency in the industries of diamonds, gemstones and luxury apparel. Everledger CEO Leanne Kemp commented, “Whether it’s fine whiskies or precious gemstones, the authenticity and backstory can be equally as important as the item itself. … By offering a complete solution including the intelligent bottle closures and the Everledger Platform, we’re helping the likes of SUERC to further enhance the vital work that they do.”

This news appears to be part of a growing trend – earlier this month IBM Blockchain partnered with eProvenance to optimise the wine supply chain. Also, in October VeChain teamed up with Ubique Tag to improve the traceability of Chinese spirits by integrating blockchain and Internet of Things technology – data about manufacture, distribution and other important parts of the product life cycle are logged on the VeChainThor Blockchain and consumers can view it by scanning a QR code. Together, these projects increase customer confidence in wine and spirits and will help achieve growth in the industry.

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