Distilling The Future
For those who speak the language, this is just another description of a whiskey blend, but for those who believe this is the path to a new future. What you just read was a description for a very unique blend of whiskey, the first one of its kind, that was created by artificial intelligence. Even though the colour is a predictable golden yellow, the whiskey packs some unique choices when it comes to the nose, mouth and overall impression. The nose comprises of toffee and cream vanilla, along with fine oloroso tones and fruit with citrus, pear and apples. There are some herbal notes of aniseed, ginger and white pepper and a light tone of toasted oak casks. The mouth features vanilla with fine oak notes, fruits with citrus and pear, herbal spices with slight tobacco leaves and a very small hint of smoke.
To summarise, it can be called fruity and oaky, slightly salty with a dryish end. It sounds quite odd when you first hear about it, but that is exactly what Microsoft is using its Azure platform for. The company has partnered with Sweden-based Mackmyra Whisky and Finnish tech company Four kinds to create this blend and are in fact planning to sell it to the public, this August 2019. Mackmyra Whisky is a 20-year-old distillery, which has won several international awards for their blends, along with the distinction of having their master blender being inducted into the Whiskey Magazine’s hall of fame. So far, they have used the same whiskey-making processes that have been perfected over 1000 years since the creation of the drink. This involves carefully selecting different ingredients that make up the base, as well as the charred wooden casks they are stored in, which play a vital role in giving each blend its unique look and flavour.
Once the ingredients are distilled, the blend is then stored in its special casks for at least three years to let the whiskey mature and develop the rich aroma, flavour, and colour that is distinctive to the drink. This maturation process can even last for 100 years or more, depending on the blend. Since it is such a time-consuming investment, distillers spend years experimenting with different blends to perfect their art. This is why this whiskey is so different since here the talent belongs to a machine. To create this blend, the AI was fed thousands of existing whiskey recipes, along with with their sales data, and customer feedback. This was enough data to generate 70 million recipes that the system automatically categorised according to predictions of popularity and quality. The mentioned recipe was chosen as the first experiment to see if a machine can truly understand the taste of good whiskey. We can’t wait to see if it succeeds.