Artificial language learns to recognize whiskey tastes like a taster

The problem with identifying high-quality alcoholic beverages is that, with due observance of the production technology, they have a very similar chemical composition. The difference, and even then very subjectively, can be recognized by the tongue and nose of a professional taster, but there are few of them on the planet, and the services are not cheap. It is not surprising that the University of Heidelberg decided to create a replacement for them.

First, the "artificial tongue" is not a language at all, not even a sensor that needs to be dipped into a glass. This is a set of containers with special polymer colorants, each of which has an individual reaction to whiskey. It is expressed in the fluorescence of the dye upon contact with alcohol and does not depend on the presence of specific substances in it, but on their unique combination. A small deviation gives a completely different result.

The process of "tasting" is reduced to the fact that the operator pours a drop of the studied whiskey into the container and analyzes the change in the luminescence of the fluorescent dye. The combination of shades of light in all test containers is interpreted as an individual “taste” or label of the beverage. It will differ in a chemically identical liquid of a different origin.

The advantage of the development is that it is very accurate, and the big disadvantage is that this testing system is extremely "stupid". By analogy with a lie detector, it only produces a column of numbers that the operator must interpret. The technology makes it possible to distinguish drinks by age, country of origin, malt from blended whiskey, but only if we initially entered all this information into the database. Moonshine, poured into the analyzer for the first time, remains a "dark horse".

The whiskey is taken as an example only to illustrate the possibilities of an artificial taster. According to the lead developer, Uwe Banz, there are no fundamental restrictions to adapt it for the analysis of any other liquid with a complex chemical composition, which is often faked or confused.