The Register: Whisky business - Microsoft's spirited attempt to develop hooch

An extract from another interesting article from the team at "The Register". Click on the link to find our more or register for their regular updates:

AI-developed whisky? The totter rise of the machines

Finally, because everything these days has to be battered with the AI branding stick, Microsoft spent a chunk of last week bragging about inflicting its AI upon the age-old tradition of creating whisky.

The challenge, according to Sweden-based Mackmyra Whisky, is getting the combination of ingredients just right in order to create a palette-pleasing blend as opposed to something more suited to unblocking the drains.

"It's much more complex than models used to create beer, due to the sheer number of combinations available," sniffed Angela D'Orazio, Master Blender at Mackmyra. Which is where Microsoft, machine learning and Azure Cognitive Services come into play.

We would take issue with the beer thing. Our last few attempts at home-brew came out disastrously, so brewing the perfect IPA is an art in itself. Or we're simply not very good at it.

For the whisky, though, Mackmyra shovelled its recipes into the AI, along with customer preferences and sales data, and the tipsy cloud spat out 70 million variations that it reckons will be popular, taking into account factors such as available cask types. The data set can then be sifted and may throw up (sorry) combinations never before considered faster than mere meatbags.

Whisky experts nervous about being replaced by a robot need not worry. "The work of a Master Blender is not at risk," D'Orazio states. "While the whisky recipe is created by AI, we still benefit from a person's expertise and knowledge, especially the human sensory part, that can never be replaced by any program."

Well, she would say that, wouldn't she?

The Register contacted Microsoft in the hope of securing a sample of the output (due in shops later in 2019) and perhaps conducting a taste test in the interests of scientific rigour.

We have, as yet, had no response.