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article imageReview: AI program used to create wondrous whisky Special

By Tim Sandle     May 17, 2020 in Food
London Colney - An artificial intelligence algorithm has been used to develop a new whisky. The whisky, from Mackmyra, is branded Intelligens and its precise concoction is only known to the software. The end product is a good dram.
The Swedish whisky distillery Mackmyra has released a new whisky called Intelligens. This is the first whisky in the world created using an artificial intelligence program. The whisky is sold direct from the Swedish distillery or via the Mackmyra U.K. branch. Digital Journal's Tim Sandle was able to try a sample at a virtually curated tasting session, run by the specialist purveyors of craft spirits Tomoka.
The image below shows the virtual tasting in action - an example of how parts of the retail sector are turning to digital transformative technologies in the time of coronavirus:
Teleconferencing in progress.
Teleconferencing in progress.
The whisky developed by AI was pioneered by Macmyra in partnership with Fourkind, a Finnish technology consultancy, who amplify established businesses practices with advanced analytics, artificial intelligence and platform economy consulting. The development process was powered by Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.
To develop the whisky, key factors about the Mackmyra range were fed into the AI software, including awards won for certain brands together with the recipes relating to these whiskies. Other data inputted included customer reviews together with sales data (to indicate which types of whiskies have the highest consumer preferences). The development signals just how advanced AI is becoming, given that developing a whisky is a very complex process given the number of variables and the fact that the end product is not available for several years due to the length of the maturation time.
With the execution of the AI algorithm, there were some 70 million combinations that could have been selected. The machine learning aspect was assisted by Mackmyra master blender Angela D’Orazio, where human expertise was helped to nudge the computer output towards considering certain combination of tastes. While human guidance is required, the application of algorithms enables a computer to come up with new combinations that humans simply could never consider. Based on the most sought after indicators, the formula for what became Intelligens was generated.
Close up of a miniature bottle of the Mackmyra whisky created with AI - a golden color signals the a...
Close up of a miniature bottle of the Mackmyra whisky created with AI - a golden color signals the all-round good taste.
The resulting product is very good. The whisky is a single malt (of an unspecified age) and it is bottled at 56.1 percent alcohol by volume. In terms of the taste, this is a smooth 'mid-range' whisky, suitable for everyday drinking. There is a sense of oak in terms of aroma, with a hint of vanilla. In terms of taste, there are senses of citrus and oak; there is also a pleasant, sweet aftertaste.
If you're considering the question 'Would you drink a whisky designed and created by artificial intelligence?' The answer should be 'yes'. My rating is 8 out of 10, but of course everything is based on personal preference. This is certainly a whisky that is easy to appreciate.
Going forwards, the potential for developing other whiskies (as well as other spirits, such as a gin) is huge. The application of machine learning can not only help to accelerate whisky flavor and recipe development (using master blenders, the tasting process can be time consuming, especially in consideration of whisky maturation times); the use of AI can advance experimentation to develop new and optimal aromas and flavors, as well as adapting other characteristics of whisky, such as the finish. The Mackmyra whisky was developed using novel explorative algorithms. With lessons learned from the machine learning and a new wave of customer feedback, the next AI produced whisky from the distillery will be run through discriminative algorithms in order to build on the experience to date.
How does an AI generated whisky taste? A good helping of oak  citrus peel  vanilla pod and cigar box...
How does an AI generated whisky taste? A good helping of oak, citrus peel, vanilla pod and cigar box, with a whisper of smoke and slightly burnt toffee alongside freshly picked herbs.
Intelligens retails for £60 ($80) and it is available via Mackmyra UK. The bottle comes with a near-field communication (NFC) tag, which can be scanned with a smartphone or tablet to reveal more information about the whisky.
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