Story Behind World’s First AI-Generated Whiskey By Microsoft
How Microsoft Created Whiskey using Artificial Intelligence?
Whisky (or whiskey) has been a popular drink among the masses. Some of the popular choices include Grain Whisky, Rye Whiskey, Blended Whisky (containing both Single Malt Whisky and Grain Whisky), Single Malt Whisky, and Blended Malt Whisky. But last year, we also had an AI to help develop a whiskey for humans. Microsoft had teamed up with Finnish tech company Fourkind and Sweden-based distillery Mackmyra Whisky to create the world’s first computer-generated blend using artificial intelligence. They used the Microsoft Azure platform to analyze over 70 million different combinations of whiskies based on Mackmyra’s original 75 recipes.
As per the Mackmyra’s website, “Currently, the distillery’s machine learning models, powered by Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform and AI cognitive services, are fed with Mackmyra’s existing recipes (including those for award-winning blends), sales data, and customer preferences. With this data set, the AI can generate more than 70 million recipes that it predicts will be popular, and of the highest quality based on what kind of cask types there are in the warehouse.”
Angela D’Orazio, master blender at Mackmyra, says humans remain crucial to curating the final product: “The work of a Master Blender is not at risk.” According to her, while AI creates the whiskey recipe, we still benefit from a person’s expertise and knowledge, especially the human sensory part. This is something that can never be replaced by any program. “We believe that the whiskey is AI-generated but human-curated. Ultimately, the decision is made by a person,” she said in a release. It was Recipe No. 36 that won D’Orazio’s nod to go into production.
Jarno Kartela, principal machine learning partner at Fourkind said, these new AI solutions can be used to generate products that retain the spirit, look, and feel of the brands behind them, while at the same time being new and unique. The whisky, dubbed Intelligens, came onto the market in September 2019. It’s a no-age-statement, single-malt whisky that’s bottled at 46.1% alcohol by volume. Mackmyra describes Intelligens as “fruity and oaky, slightly salty and with a dryish end. The first batch of 5,000 bottles was being sold via Mackmyra’s website, for £59.99 (US$74) a bottle.
“This AI-generation can have an impact in different industries globally,” informed Kartela. He envisions AI systems generating recipes for sweets, perfumes, beverages, and maybe even sneaker designs. Many of these have already been attempted, but large-scale adoption is still lagging. While Mackmyra and Microsoft have firmly planted their flag in the AI whisky space, several other breweries have already beaten them to the punch. IntelligentX, Carlsberg, and Champion Brewing have all experimented with machine learning to produce new beers or improve upon their existing products.
This year, Mackmyra Intelligens was awarded a Gold and named Best of Category by the well-regarded Craft Spirits Awards Competition organized by the American Distilling Institute.