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Using data to tickle our taste buds

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Using data to tickle our taste buds

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Data is increasingly being used to perfect everything throughout the business supply chain, with one distiller using data in a bid to innovate the phenomenally traditional process of producing whiskey.

While whiskey has been distilled for centuries in its homeland of Scotland, new-world whiskies – including those made in Australia – have sought to adapt traditional techniques to create new blends and tastes.

That has led Scottish makers to also seek out new distilling methods alongside their traditional ones to keep pace with the number of whiskey drinkers and connoisseurs booming globally.


Williams Grant & Sons is an independent family-owned distiller in the UK that has operated since 1887 and is now under fifth-generation family stewardship.

Known for brands including Glenfiddich and The Balvenie as well as other spirits and liqueurs such as Drambuie and Hendrick’s Gin, the distiller has released a new whiskey into Australia that is entirely data-driven in its composition.

Ailsa Bay is a single malt whiskey that uses extensive data analysis throughout the distillation process to monitor its smokiness as well as its level of sweetness.

The company claims that the Ailsa Bay whiskey is the first in the world to index sweetness in such a fashion.



“Ailsa Bay’s distillery is one of the most advanced in the world. It’s a playground for our inquisitive team of scientists, engineers and whisky makers that can question the status quo and push boundaries,” the company’s malt master, Brian Kinsman, said.

“We have created a beautiful new sensory experience, distilling whiskey in the most precise way possible through data science.”

According to Mr Kinsman, the new approach to whiskey making was conceptualised by the company’s former chairman, Peter Gordon – great-great grandson of its initial founder William Grant, whom the company is named after.

“We operate in a phenomenally traditional industry. As a company, we don’t want to change that, but instead harness all the enhancements technology can bring,” Mr Kinsman said.

“We like to think of it as oak at the heart, data at the head.”

First launched in the UK and Nordics in 2016, the whiskey is now being launched into Australia.

My Business has previously delved into the Australian whiskey scene, having spoken with the general manager and master distiller at Tasmania’s Hellyers Road Distillery, Mark Littler.

Mr Littler explained that it is not just product data influencing production but demographics data on drinkers and visitors to the Apple Isle that is transforming distilling from a manufacturing business into a hospitality one.

“Going into tourism and hospitality was a new set of skills that we had to learn, and we just did,” he said.

“We committed to it [and] we continue to learn all the time.”


Using data to tickle our taste buds
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