A poured glas of Mackmyra and the opened bottle

Mackmyra Intelligence – How AI blended technology and whisky

Before I begin – please always drink responsible. If you feel that you have an unhealthy alcohol consumption level or pattern, there´s help to get. This post is not written to encourage alcohol consumption nor has Mackmyra in any way had any influence on the text or the blog as such.

This will be a kind of special blogpost, but I do hope that ill get more opportunities like this one.

One of my passions in life is whisky, and oddly enough what made me discover this interest was my work in IT. Many years ago, on my first trip with Atea, we went north to a (by then) new (and Sweden’s first) distillery – Mackmyra. We of course did a lot of other fun things during that trip, but one of the highlights were to visit the building site of what came to be the world’s first gravity distillery – and we of course were given an opportunity to taste the different casks type you could order at the time.

After that if tested hundreds if not thousands of whiskies. If visited close to every distillery in Scotland, and Sweden, that allows visitors and I have a made a start towards a decent collection of wonderful whiskies.

When an opportunity shows to that allows me to combine my interest in technology with my interest in whisky – I jump at the chance! And this is what´s happened.

Two bottles of Mackmyra

Mackmyra, together with Microsoft and the Microsoft partner INSERT have created the worlds first whisky designed by AI, Intelligence. I will do my best, together with my much more AI-knowledgeable friend Alexander to get more information on the actual progress, dataset and what´s ahead but what we know is that Mackmyras Master Blender Angela D’Orazio were presented with a number of recipes, which usually consist of which kind of barley, the phenol-level (the smokiness of the whisky), the jeast, the fermentation, the cuts and so on, but that Angela then choose how to mature it. Angela choose recipe number 36, because the AI can’t understand which part that don’t mix well. It understands the data it’s been feed, the recipes and the ingredients and probably how successful the previous whiskies of Mackmyra have been.

The back label of Mackmyra Intelligence

In the end – and that´s vital to remember before we get to the tasting notes – a whisky was created, with the goal of being like of as many as possible. An easy drinker and a proof that the concept works and that an AI (with some assistance from a human) can create a very successful whisky. So, after that, lets head into my tasting notes of the Mackmyra Intelligence AI:01, at 46 % and without artificial coloring.

Tasting notes (neat)

Color:

Its rather light in color, close to an Instagram-filter, hay and not particularly oily.

Comment: Nothing out of the ordinary. Mackmyra uses a lot of bourbon and new Swedish oak barrels and the whisky is probably rather young so this is to be expected.

Smell:

Oaky, some alcohol vapors (or what could be felt as that, probably a lot of wood again), sawdust, juniper, a light touch of vanilla, dried fruit, peach, old raisins and a maltiness.

Comment: To me, the woody smells with the sting of alcohol is very typical Mackmyra and I personally have always loved it. I like the apparent oakiness with the juniper (which comes from Mackmyras usage of juniper when they smoke their barley). It’s a complex smell, not everyone will like it, but its great fun to find new smells while it warms up.

Taste:

The first taste is very light, almost watery and I was kind of disappointed but the longer you keep the whisky in your mouth, it grows. A clear tannin/alcohol sting combined with freshly cut wood and white pepper. Later a very, very light smokiness, more black pepper and a number of different kinds of wood. It finishes of with vanilla, burnt sugar and warm marzipan/frangipane.

Comment: It has all what I expect from a Mackmyra, but its obvious that its been toned down to suit a broader audience. Its representative and a good whisky to try on someone who just have started to enjoy whisky. My wife, who is a keen whisky drinker, likes easy drinkers with character – and usually don’t like Mackmyra, but when she tasted this her comment were: “Oh, that´s very good!”.

Finish:

Short, more of a feeling than a taste, dry (because of the oakiness and tannins) but more elegant than expected. White pepper and dry wood.

Comment: To me, aftertaste is almost more important than the actual taste. I would have hoped for more here. Not because its bad, its not, but because I would have thought that it would be something that others would enjoy and therefore the AI would have chosen a recipe to reflect that.

A poured glas of Mackmyra and the opened bottle

Water and whisky

I always taste my whiskies neat at first, and then add a few drops of water. In my experience, Mackmyra whisky should not go under 46 % (apart from the MACK-whisky) but I wanted to try it. To following now is my additional tasting notes for the Intelligence with a few drops of water. If you haven’t tried that in your whisky, I highly encourage you to do it.

Smell (with water):

Warmer, more smoke and peatiness, a nice, calm fire outside, fruitier and sweater with more vanilla.

Comment: Smell-wise, it’s totally different and in some perspectives an improvement.

Taste (with water):

Almost sour to start with, getting watery very quickly. Later, burnt sugar, caramel, burnt marzipan and a more obvious taste of juniper. Woodier and with a more obvious alcohol taste and aftertaste.

To me, drink it neat at room temperature and take your time.

Conclusion:

It’s a whisky I do like, but its not on my list of the best whiskies I´ve had. If I were to grade it from 0-100 (which many does) this would probably be somewhere between 75-80. Where 50 would be drinkable and 100 the best you´ve ever tried. I would recommend you to by one, either if it is your first Mackmyra or if you like the Mackmyra-taste – or if you just like the idea of owning the world’s first AI whisky.

In terms of the technology part, Ill do my best to find out more about it. I think that this is a very good way to learn about the limitations of AI and where humans still are required to achieve the task at hand. I´m very happy that I purchased the bottles (yes, I have two ?) and I´m looking forward to the next one. For that, I would love to see a more advanced whisky, based on as much data as possible from other whiskies (as well as Mackmyra) which have been given praise across the world. Until then, Slainte!

 

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