The starting point
Aqua vitae. Uisce beatha. Whisky.
Over 1,000 years ago, travelling monks migrated from mainland Europe to discover new worlds. Their paths led them to Scotland and Ireland, and among their collective wisdom, was the knowledge of distillation – the process of extracting and purifying liquid.
Lacking the vineyards and grapes from their original lands, they began to ferment grain mash – a mixture of water, grain and yeast – and in doing so, introduced the first whisky to the world.
Derived from the Gaelic word uisce, meaning water, distilled alcohol was known in Latin as aqua vitae, or water of life. This was translated into Old Irish as uisce beatha, before various iterations in early English gave us the whisky (or whiskey) we know today.
Since these early beginnings, whisky production has spread to all corners of the globe. From Ireland and Scotland, to Japan, the US, Australia and more, this ancient art has traversed cultures and boundaries, with each distillery infusing their unique soul into each blend.
Sweden-based Mackmyra Whisky is one such distillery. Founded in 1999 after eight friends decided to create their own whisky, it has since won several international awards, and its Master Blender has recently been inducted into Whisky Magazine’s hall of fame. The distillery’s ambitions, however, reach much further.
Together with Thoughtworks, Mackmyra created the world’s first whisky developed completely by machine learning. In an industry synonymous with deep-rooted tradition, human expertise and craftsmanship, what happens when 1,000-year-old techniques meet advanced 21st Century technology?