My view of the AI-whisky Intelligens

Angela D'Orazio

In case you missed it, four months have now passed since Mackmyra officially launched its AI whisky, which made news around the world. Many of the major media outlets around the world, as well as a number of tech magazines and also the whisky world, wrote about the fact that the relatively unknown Swedish whisky maker Mackmyra had produced its latest whisky using something that few people would associate with whisky traditions, namely artificial intelligence. How did this unholy alliance come about? It no doubt upset some purists, and some people even thought that it was all some sort of ruse to gain attention.

But it is most certainly not a ruse. As Mackmyra’s Master Blender, I was the first person to be asked if I felt comfortable with the project – as it would have been difficult to implement it without having me on board… but I was fine with it.

My spontaneous reaction was that we were in uncharted waters, really unconventional and new territory in terms of whisky. I got an excited feeling in my stomach and knew that we had to do it. We are, after all, Mackmyra, Explorers in whisky!

Being a mentor for the project was an incredibly enjoyable challenge. The tech people at Fourkind in Finland, which was our partner in this project, owned and managed the AI algorithm, fed in the whisky data, made the algorithm whisky-smart and gave us a world-class whisky recipe generated using AI. They were incredibly professional and nice to work with. Me and my close colleague of many years, Sus, worked together on the project with Fourkind – and as is often the case when things are enjoyable, things were done in a really good way.

How was it all done? We shared detailed information about the more than 75 individual bottlings we have made to date, and supplemented this information with all the relevant ratings, medals, evaluations, tasting notes and grades. Little AI (the working title) was fed with all this information, and it output a wide range of different recipes, some more

interesting than others. After entering various parameters, and going back and forth a number of times, the recipe that we ultimately decided to use was identified.

One thing I am sure of is that the blending craftsmanship at Mackmyra is still very much alive and well. And also that every barrel in this edition has been carefully selected, mixed and tasted with love.

So, we have now produced the first edition of AI, and we ourselves are pleasantly surprised by how well everything has gone so far. It remains to be seen how things will develop further, and we will also give some thought to what we want the smart, machine-learning based AI source in Finland to provide us with in the future. But, so far, in many respects this project has been one of my and Mackmyra’s most enjoyable projects in a long time, and I look forward to hearing what you, our dear ambassadors, feel about the end result.

I wish you all a fantastic late summer!

/ Angela D’Orazio, Master Blender, Mackmyra Whisky