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  • Writer's pictureJohn Ennis

Eye on AI - March 19th, 2021

Welcome to Aigora's "Eye on AI" series, where we round up exciting news at the intersection of consumer science and artificial intelligence!


Happy belated St. Patrick’s Day, everyone! Keeping on the theme, this week we’ll be discussing whiskey tasting AI (that’s a thing now, believe it or not), including Wild Turkey’s launch of the first-ever whiskey tasting led by Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, and an AI expert and whiskey sommelier’s list of ten parallels between AI and whiskey tasting.


Wild Turkey Launches World’s First AI-led Virtual Whiskey Tasting

Let’s begin by looking at the article “Wild Turkey designs guided tasting for Alexa and Google” out of Reel Chicago, which describes Wild Turkey’s master-distiller led tasting, designed in partnership with Havas CX using the Voicify platform, that was recently launched through Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

To launch a tasting, all users have to do is say, “Alexa, enable Wild Turkey Tasting” into an Alexa-enabled device, or “Hey Google, talk to Wild Turkey Tasting” into a Google Assistant-enabled device, and they’ll be virtually transported to the Wild Turkey Distillery, where legendary Russell family whiskey distillers are waiting to lead them through everything from the Wild Turkey whiskey styles to the science behind tasting glasses.

“Unlike other whiskey-focused smart speaker skills that simply share recipes, the Wild Turkey Tasting is uniquely multi-dimensional, channeling the perspectives and authenticity of the Russell family straight from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky,” writes the Reel Chicago editorial team. “Master Distillers Jimmy and Eddie Russell – a beloved father and son distilling duo with a combined 107 years of industry experience between them – personally lent their voices to guide consumers through a curated collection of Wild Turkey whiskies: Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon, Wild Turkey 101 Rye, Rare Breed Bourbon, Longbranch and Kentucky Spirit.”

Even before the pandemic, beverage companies were trying to utilize AI to connect with their customers from afar. We touched on this idea back in 2019, when Jack Daniel’s first launched smart labels that enabled AR-led smartphone tours of their facilities. Now, with in-person visits and tastings completely shut down for the time being, beverage companies are seeking even more creative and sensorial ways to connect directly to consumers remotely.

In my view, the move by Wild Turkey to utilize smart speakers for experiential marketing is a particularly smart one. Consider this: over 25% of US households own at least one smart speaker. That number is expected to grow to 75% by 2025. That means that three out of every four potential Wild Turkey customers in the US will have access to Wild Turkey’s smart speaker-led tastings directly from home. The potential reach is exponential. Master distiller hosts build stronger bonds to the Wild Turkey brand (not to mention unlockable “Easter egg” messages by Matthew McConaughey). It’s a win-win. If I were a marketer working with a large beverage company, I’d 100% be looking into smart speaker remote tastings.

10 Parallels Between AI & Whiskey Tasting

To compliment future AI-nerd whiskey tastings, let’s conclude with a list from Anthony Dina, whiskey sommelier and Director of Big Data in North America for Dell, of his 10 parallels between whiskey tasting and AI. Here’s one of my favorites:

“Propensity is a fancy term to describe what might likely happen. It’s how AI deals with the unknown,” writes Dina. “We see a drop in the price of oil and the propensity rises for Houstonians to leave the family cell phone plan. The same principle underpins whiskey when it comes to food pairing. Chicken piccata, an Italian dish served with a lemon and caper sauce, is likely to go well with a Rye. Why? Because the rye grain has lemon on the nose. Therefore, the propensity for such a match is high.”

Other notable parallels include deductive reasoning, feature detection, classification, and anomaly detection, among others. It’s an intriguing list––who knew that AI and whiskey tasting had so much in common? Give the article a read for yourself and see what you think. If you are in fact an AI-enthusiast (I’m assuming most of you are), at the very least Dina’s article should enhance your appreciation of that next smooth sip of grandpa’s cough medicine.

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