Worth a shot: New fingerprinting tech could help regulate the gin industry

NMR could kick the counterfeits out of the ever-growing gin market.

You know how at a wine tasting, the sommelier can detail the exact texture of the soil that the grapes used to make the wine you’re sipping grew in?

A gin cocktail in a clear glass with a yellow straw and lime garnish on a blue background with a blue fingerprint.

It turns out not every alcoholic beverage you drink works that way. Any alcohol that has a minimum of 37.5% ABV and a “prominent juniper taste,” can be gin — and that’s led to a murky, unregulated industry, per Wired.

But now, new technology could help dry up any shady gins on the market, per a 2023 study:

  • Chemists used a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer to “fingerprint” 16 gin samples.
  • NMR uses magnets to measure how atoms in a substance react to electromagnetic radiation, mapping peaks on an x-axis with the spectrometer.
  • The process uncovers the specific compounds behind each gin’s flavor, mouthfeel, and aroma. The data could even identify where the juniper berries used to make the gin were grown.

Being able to identify where a gin came from and what it’s made of would be a big deal for a market that’s rapidly expanding.

The premium gin sector is projected to be worth ~$1.4B by 2030. Around 9m 9-liter cases of gin were sold in the US in 2023, generating $1B+ in revenue.


Distillers could one day use NMR to authenticate their products and show customers they’ve made good on the promise of rare or expensive ingredients.

But it’s pricey, meaning it’d only be accessible to high-end brands — like those in the superpremium category, which sold 700k+ 9-liter cases in 2023, up 16% YoY.

And while an unregulated industry can lead to a market flooded with low-quality products and some confusing shopping for customers, it can also lead to some pretty awesome ideas.

  • Gin has the second-highest variety of any spirit (behind vodka), with formulations made from intriguing ingredients, like peas.

The hope? That the new tech will keep the counterfeits on ice while continuing to serve up creative new products.

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