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SmokeDNAi Revolutionizes Whisky Production in Scotland

Last Updated on March 26, 2024 by SPN Editor

In a remarkable blend of tradition and technological advancement, Port Ellen, a recently reopened whisky distillery in Scotland, is employing artificial intelligence SmokeDNAi to craft a limited edition whisky.

Over the course of two years, Diageo, a prominent alcohol beverage company, has been meticulously analyzing various Scotch whiskies using AI and sophisticated algorithms. With a substantial investment of $230 million into a range of whisky tourism projects, including over $44 million specifically allocated to explore whisky maturation utilizing a technology known as SmokeDNAi.

SmokeDNAi facilitates the testing and examination of flavor profiles and mouthfeel of non-identical twin whiskies distilled in separate casks. Dubbed Port Ellen Gemini, this rare pair of whiskies comes with a hefty price tag of $50,000 per bottle. The primary objective of this analysis is to gain deeper insights into whisky aging within the barrel.

Ewan Morgan, national luxury ambassador and head of whisky outreach at Diageo North America, elaborated on their endeavor, stating, “What we want to do is have this wonderful slow maturation in a barrel where we’re controlling the flavor. We have a much better understanding of why they taste the way they taste, or why they smell the way they smell, or the mouth-feel.”

A notable observation during the analysis revealed a discrepancy in the vanillin characteristic between two whisky casks from Port Ellen, located in Islay. While one cask contained approximately 3%, the other exhibited a concentration of more than double, around 6%. These casks held spirits dating back to the 1960s and 1980s.

Morgan emphasized the significance of this technological advancement, stating, “We can get a much better understanding of what the final product is going to be like.” Port Ellen can leverage these extensive data sets to optimize production, flavor, and ultimately boost whisky sales and the development of new blends in the future.

Utilizing samples of whisky, a chemical analysis process involving gas chromatography or liquid chromatography breaks down distinct components into data sets through an algorithm. Morgan explained, “It basically takes a signature of that liquid, and then it gives us a reading or a spike reading of the different compounds that are in there.”

Additionally, Diageo aimed to offer consumers a multi-sensory experience by incorporating visual elements. “Out of the Ether,” described as “an algorithmic machine-generated work of art that harnesses SmokeDNAi technology,” generates imagery depicting whisky smoke evolving over time.

This innovative approach of using SmokeDNAi to whisky production signifies a significant leap forward in the industry, seamlessly integrating centuries-old techniques with state-of-the-art technology to elevate the whisky experience for aficionados worldwide.

What is SmokeDNAi?

SmokeDNAi, an AI technology employed by Diageo, a leading alcohol beverage company, serves to comprehend the intricate aging process of whisky. This cutting-edge technology empowers teams to meticulously examine and assess the flavor profiles and texture of whiskies distilled in diverse casks.

For example, it played a pivotal role in scrutinizing Port Ellen Gemini, a pair of non-identical twin whiskies, each valued at $50,000. The primary aim of such analysis is to gain deeper insights into the maturation of whisky within a barrel.

Furthermore, SmokeDNAi technology facilitates the dissection of whisky samples into distinct components through sophisticated chemical analysis methods such as gas chromatography or liquid chromatography. Subsequently, the gathered data undergoes meticulous breakdown by an algorithm.

This revolutionary technology has been pivotal in advancing the exploration of whisky maturation, with Diageo’s investment exceeding $44 million in SmokeDNAi projects. Its profound impact extends to enhancing the understanding of the intricate nuances that dictate the taste, aroma, and tactile experience of whiskies.

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