The Whisky List launches AI recommendations technology

The Whisky List has launched a personalised whisky recommendations platform powered by artificial intelligence (AI), which aims to help drinkers find new whiskies that appeal to their personal tastes.

Launched in 2018, The Whisky List is now Australia’s largest spirits marketplace, according to founders Oliver Maruda and Chris Ross.

“The Whisky List has helped over 200,000 Aussies find their next bottle of whisky from 6,500+ bottles across 80+ retailers,” the company says.

TWL’s new AI technology estimates the likelihood that a customer will enjoy a particular whisky in its catalogue​ based on three factors:

  • Whiskies they have browsed, rated, collected and purchased;
  • How similar their favourite whiskies are with others in the ​catalogue​ they haven’t tried; and
  • How highly other users rate each of those whiskies.

“All of that data are used as inputs that we process in our algorithms,” the company said.

“Each time the thousands of TWL members rate a whisky on TWL they are helping ‘train’ the whisky-AI recommendations engine to design the best possible pick just for you.”

The Whisky List's new AI tech
The Whisky List’s new AI tech in use

Armed with the recommendations, consumers can also purchase their favourite spirits from more than 80 independent liquor retailers in Australia.

“A lot of indie retailers have far greater range available at same and better prices than what is often available at the major chains,” Maruda said.

“Many of our partner retailers are responsible for directly importing whisky from Scotland, USA, Japan and all other the world, passing on better pricing to consumers.”

Testing the AI functionality

Drinks Adventures put the new AI function to the test using a selection of our favourite drams from across the globe:

Yamazaki 12, Archie Rose Single Malt, Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey, Willett Distillery 3 Year Old Rye, Sullivans Cove French Oak, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, Talisker Port Ruighe, Talisker 10, Craigellachie 17, Bladnoch 10 Year Old Whisky, Balvenie 12 Double Wood, Ballantine’s 17, Colonel E.H. Taylor Straight Rye Whiskey, Ardbeg 10, Springbank Local Barley 10, Westward Stout Cask, The Gospel Single Barrel Rye, Starward Solera, Overeem Port Cask, Lagavulin 16

The Whisky List returned the following recommendations, consisting predominately of Scotch whiskies:

Top Five all up:
GlenDronach 12 Original
Ardbeg Uigeadail
Bunnahabhain 12
Glenmorangie Signet
Bushmills 16

Top Five under $100:
GlenDronach 12 Original
Bunnahabhain 12
Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie
Kilkerran 12
Craigellachie 13

Top Five over $200:
Glenmorangie Signet
GlenDronach 18 Allardice
Ardbeg 19 Traigh Bhan Batch 1
BenRiach 21
Bunnahabhain 18

“Basically, because GlenDronach 12 is so highly rated and priced similarly to many other whiskies you like, is similar in style to many whiskies you already like (Starward Solera, Balvenie 12, Overeem Port Cask) and is not already in your preferred list, it ends up as the top choice,” co-founder Chris Ross told Drinks Adventures.

“If someone happens to prefer more Irish or mostly American, or exclusively independent bottlings, it’ll end up putting similar styles/types in higher positions.”

Ross said the biggest challenge is getting the style classifications right, given the style of different distilleries or regions is rarely uniform.

“For every whisky we create in our system we tag it with the style of either American Oak Cask, Sherry/Wine Cask, or Peated, as most people will have a preference for one of those types of whiskies,” he said.

“This isn’t a technical description but more an indication of the dominant flavour present in the whisky.

“It’s really just a simple way to get us started, and while it does cover quite a lot of the whisky available, there’s some obvious gaps; most American whiskey, port vs sherry vs wine, virgin vs refill oak, French oak.

“Early next year though we should have a few very cool improvements to the site that will allow us to do this much better.”

The Whisky List is free to join at thewhiskylist.com.au.

More:
Whisky podcast episodes on Drinks Adventures
Wine podcast episodes on Drinks Adventures
Founders First in whisky venture using Nant stock
McLaren Vale Distillery nears whisky debut

Author: James Atkinson

Journalist specialising in the food, drink, travel and hospitality arenas. Australian International Beer Awards 2017 Media Award Winner and Certified Cicerone®.

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