Ailsa Bay partners with arc-net on blockchain whisky app

By Jenny Eagle contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Ailsa Bay app Distilled ID by arc-net. Photo: Ailsa Bay.
The Ailsa Bay app Distilled ID by arc-net. Photo: Ailsa Bay.

Related tags: Whisky, Intelligent packaging, blockchain

William Grant & Sons’ Ailsa Bay has launched a blockchain whisky app in partnership with technology company arc-net.

The platform captures the distilling and manufacturing process of Ailsa Bay, which is made through a micro-maturation process, where the spirit is added in small bourbon casks for six to nine months for rapid and intense maturation, and taste measuring labelling, displaying PPM (Phenol Parts per Million) and SPPM (Sweet Parts Per Million). 

Family-owned distiller

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Ailsa Bay is scientifically distilled at 022 PPM and 019 SPPM.  

William Grant & Sons is an independent family-owned distiller in the UK with a portfolio that includes Glenfiddich, The Balvenie, Scotch, Hendrick’s Gin, Sailor Jerry, Tullamore D.E.W Irish Whiskey, Monkey Shoulder and Drambuie. 

James Macrae, brand ambassador, Ailsa Bay, said the concept of using blockchain for whisky emerged from William Grant & Sons’ inaugural ‘Hackadram’ event last year, where startups and innovation specialists were invited to use their expertise to shape the future of the company’s spirits. 

Hacadram was a two-day hackathon at Plexal Park, London, in 2018 shaking up the way people talk about spirits.

We’re constantly looking to evolve our offering and learn new things to push the boundaries within the drinks industry. We’re doing something now that we hope will set the bar for the future experience of spirits, and we look forward to seeing how other brands follow suit as innovation within the industry continues to develop in the next few years​,” he said. 

Blockchain is a list of registers, or ‘blocks’ which contain information about the previous block and transaction data between them. It acts as an ‘open’ ledger, and this is managed publicly rather than controlled by one party, meaning stored information can’t be changed or tampered, to track authenticity. 

For Ailsa Bay, blockchain data is collected from William Grant & Sons’ where existing data sources, including cask types, filling dates and bottling dates are all tracked.

As part of the concept, each Ailsa Bay bottle has been produced and bottled utilising Distilled ID, arc-net’s blockchain-backed distillery management platform and is individually marked with a QR code. 

Consumers can trace the origins of their whisky via the web, which is individually tailored to each bottle.

By scanning a QR code, users can play a visual history of their whisky, produced using digitally created art generated by blockchain data. Scanning that code takes the customer to a rich interactive storybook experience through which they can learn a variety of details about their specific bottle including its number in the batch, malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation, and maturation processes. 

New Age distillery

Blockchain technology also allows Ailsa Bay to gather data from existing and potential customers, using mobile location services to correlate where the whisky is being purchased and consumed to maintain brand protection.

Arc-net is delighted to be supporting William Grant’s “Free Spirit” initiative. The scientific approach, and the use of data, in the production of Ailsa Bay single malt is truly innovative and aligns perfectly with the ethos of arc-net,​” said Drew Lyall, GM, arc-net.

Ailsa Bay is one of the largest Single Malt Distilleries in the world producing up to 12 million litres of single malt per year. The Distillery was opened in 2007 on the Girvan site in Ayrshire. The Distillery currently produces four styles of liquid and is a largely automated new age distillery.

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Lyall added when William Grant & Sons built the distillery, next to an existing distillery in Girvan, their goal was to marry 150 years of experience in whisky production with a laboratory, to create an innovation program of new product development. The Ailsa Bay single malt is a result of this vision. 

Ailsa Bay not only records the measurement of peat parts per million (PPPM) to determine the “peatiness” of the whisky but is the first whisky to have an analysed measurement of sweetness identified (SPPM). This attention to detail gives Ailsa Bay the perfect balance between the peat and sweetness, he added. 

William Grant then turned to arc-net to help them share the story of their single malt with their customers.

Distilled ID stores operational data on a private blockchain, allowing William Grant to share every aspect of the Ailsa Bay story and engage directly with their consumers.

For the consumer, Distilled ID, provides scientific facts and tasting notes specific to their bottle of Ailsa Bay but also the trust and transparency in the bottle they have purchased.

Providing customers with the ability to scan their bottle and learn how science and technology are enhancing traditional whisky production, provides a unique experience and builds trust in their brand.

Ailsa Bay’s 700ml whisky (RRP $95) is available nationally.

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