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Microsoft heads to Sweden to create world’s first artificial intelligence whisky

Two very different worlds will come together as a global brand at the forefront of tech and innovation and a small distillery that uses time-honoured techniques team up to create the world’s first artificial intelligence-created whisky.

Published: May 10, 2019
Categories: , ,

The new project will see Microsoft, together with Finnish artificial intelligence (AI)
experts Fourkind, and Mackmyra, a successful Swedish whisky distillery, develop an entirely unique whisky.

Set to be available from this autumn, the final spirit will be the first complex consumer product recipe that will have been created with machine learning.

Though firmly embedded in an industry that very much relies on tradition, Mackmyra, which was founded in 1999, has been keen to use innovation to improve their processes.

Mackmyra AI whisky

Mackmyra's Gravitation Distillery. Picture: Mackmyra

The distillery team said they believed the possibilities for different whiskies were endless, with their experienced whisky makers using AI to help create – and augment – the best flavour profiles possible.

Angela D’Orazio, master blender at Mackmyra, said: “We see AI as a part of our digital development. It is really exciting to let AI be a complement to the craft of producing a high-quality whisky.”

To create the new spirit, the distillery’s machine learning models, powered by Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform and AI cognitive services, will be fed with Mackmyra’s existing recipes, sales data and customer preferences.

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With this dataset, the AI can generate more than 70 million recipes that it predicts will be popular and of the highest quality. Microsoft say using AI is not only faster than a person carrying out the process manually, but that, thanks to the algorithm’s ability to sift through and calculate a vast amount of data, new and innovative combinations that would otherwise never have been considered can be found.

However, Mackmyra said the technology was not designed to replace their current master blender.

Jarno Kartela, machine learning partner at Fourkind, said: “Although lacking human expertise, we can teach machines to understand what elements previous recipes and products are made of and how they are perceived and ranked by customers and experts.

"With this as a raw data asset, we can leverage a combination of explorative algorithms to generate endless new recipes and products and then use a set of discriminative algorithms to understand which of them might be great, repeating until better recipes are not found.”

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Microsoft said they foresee AI systems generating recipes for sweets, perfumes, beverages and potentially even sneaker designs in the near future.

• READ MORE: What happened to these stalled whisky distillery construction projects?

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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