2019’s top tech initiatives in the drinks industry

Lucy Britner

Lucy Britner

24 December 2019

From augmented reality to harvest machines and music partnerships, the drinks industry is embracing all kinds of new technology. Here, we take a look at the major initiatives from 2019


The constant emergence of new tech is apparent in everything from cars to bars, gyms to gins. While some appear gimmicky and pointless, new tech in the drinks industry is also helping to create new ways to engage with consumers, while pioneering new inventions are being used to aid harvests and come up with new products.

In April, Tennessee whiskey Jack Daniel’s became the latest distiller to make use of augmented reality. The AR app takes participants on a journey through the distillery using a series of pop-up book style dioramas.  

Once the app has been downloaded, drinkers simply point their phones at any JD bottle to uncover the AR journey.  

The following month, Bacardi-owned Grey Goose tapped into the draught trend with the launch of its own draught cocktail system.

Though mechanical harvesting might not seem like a technological breakthrough, it’s a pretty big deal in a place like the Douro valley

Touted as ‘the world’s first sub-zero draught cocktail tap system’, the system features four key kegs encased in glass. The set up differs from others on the market in a number of ways, but the biggest point of difference, according to Marc Plumridge, Bacardi’s European programming director, is the way it chills liquids.

‘If you’ve ever played with these sort of systems, you know that key kegs usually have to be chilled 24-48 hours before,’ Plumridge told Imbibe. ‘Our system doesn’t do that. The liquid can go in instantly, and the system does all the hard work’ – chilling the cocktail down to a sub-arctic -3.5°C –‘with nitrogen injected at the last point to ensure it’s as fresh as can be'.

The technology, which took nearly a year to perfect, was developed with the Espresso Martini in mind.

There's a new interactive bar experience from Cambridge Consultants designed to cut queues at the bar. Customers order drinks at their table from an app and are called to the bar when it's their time to be served.

As part of its World Class final in September, Diageo announced a partnership with Spotify. The Johnnie Walker owner utilised social data to collate information and keywords related to specific Diageo Reserve brand cocktails. From there, these insights were provided to Spotify, which created a method to identify ‘key tracks and music that best encapsulated the mood and spirit of the cocktail’.

This partnership resulted in six data-driven playlists curated for Diageo Reserve brand's signature cocktails. 

Though mechanical harvesting might not seem like a technological breakthrough, it’s a pretty big deal in a place like the Douro valley. In November, Symington Family Estates hailed a successful trail for its mechanical harvester during the 2019 vintage, as the company looked to tackle the falling numbers of available pickers.  

The gin... was created by a programme trained to analyse thousands of botanicals, understand gin recipes and learn a database of around 500 gin names

According to the port and wine firm, in comparative blind tastings of wines made from hand-picked and harvester-picked grapes, they were found to be of equal quality. 

The company has form, too: in 2017, Symington trialled a vineyard robot, VineScout, to monitor vines. 

Also in November, Bristol’s Circumstance Distillery announced the creation of what it claims is the world’s first gin to be made using Artificial Intelligence.

The gin, called Monker’s Garkel, was created by a programme trained to analyse thousands of botanicals, understand gin recipes and learn a database of around 500 gin names.

The programme, dubbed ‘Ginette’, was created by a collaboration between technology scientists Tiny Giant and Rewrite Digital. 

The distiller has form when it comes to using tech. Last year, Circumstance introduced blockchain

We can’t wait to see what’s on the cards for 2020…

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