Elemental profiles of whisk(E)y allow differentiation by type and region

Helene Hopfer, Greg Gilleland, Susan E. Ebeler, Jenny Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Elemental fingerprints could provide an analytical approach to product differentiation and authentication, and have been used in the past for various distilled spirits, including brandy, gin, bourbon and tequila. However, a comparison of elemental differences between different whisk(e)y types, such as Bourbon and Scotch, is still missing. In this study we compare the elemental fingerprints of 68 commercial whiskies for differentiation by type (Bourbon, Tennessee, Scotch, Irish, Japanese) and region. Concentrations from sub-µg/L to mid-mg/L of 53 different elements were determined with inductively-coupled plasma—mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and microwave plasma—atomic emission spectroscopy (MP-AES), and used in subsequent statistical analyses. Significant differences in several elements were found for type, and allowed a classification according to whisk(e)y type. Elemental differences were also found for different production areas within Scotland, thus, providing further evidence that Scotch whiskies could be differentiated by elemental analysis. Major sources of elemental differences seem to be processing equipment (Cu, Fe, Ni, Cd, Sn, Mo, V) and raw materials, such as water (Ca, Mg, Fe, Mn, Sr).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Elemental profiles of whisk(E)y allow differentiation by type and region'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this