Blocktail: Mr Lyan challenges on-trade to join quest for traceability

Imbibe Editorial

Imbibe Editorial

18 September 2018

Sustainability needs to go further than plastic straws. Ryan Chetiyawardana and Robin Honhold tell you why Blocktail is the answer...

Dear friends and family of the drinks world,

We’ve all asked where that whisky really came from – where the barley was grown, how far it travelled, how much energy was used in its production. Sometimes a producer is happy to disclose the answers, other times not so much. Even if they are, we often apply a healthy scepticism to their answers.

It’s in those greyer areas that we need to start exploring the truth – not just for spirits, but for all the ingredients in a cocktail. What is the true cost implicit in your enjoyment of that carefully made drink? Ideas evolve rapidly within industries as dynamic as our own, and it’s no surprise that the notion of sustainability in food and drink has morphed hugely since we’ve been working around it over the last 10 years.

In any junior movement, there’s never a perfect solution from the beginning, and so with food and drink there is no zero waste. However, passionate people across the globe have picked up the mantle and really run with it. Anyone for plastic straws? Conscious water usage? Reused ingredients? We have seen real change and a real shift in perception.

It’s not enough, however. This is all skin deep. We are the last link in a long chain of events that is hidden from our eyes. Our good intentions are laudable, but we must do more.

One of the key steps in this movement has been that of accountability and intent. We hold ourselves accountable for our actions. But what of the others in this chain?

There’s no point in having an amazing drink if the farmer at the start is being exploited. One of the ideas that began to morph from this thought was an exploration of motivation, culpability and control in this industry. We wanted to see if there was a way of highlighting good practice and illustrating the need for it to exist all along the supply chain.

And this is where the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies – blockchain – became interesting to us.

Together with a team that includes world-renowned university UCL and its Centre for Blockchain Technologies; OweMe, a groundbreaking blockchain-based payment platform; and DH Ready, a creative futures consultancy, we intend to make a difference by disrupting the system.

We’ve looked beyond traditional sustainable practice to another pillar of the modern world – digital technology.

This is our mission: Blocktail. Together we aim to create the world’s most truthful cocktail, using blockchain’s disruptive technology to fully trace and authenticate the origins of a drinking experience.

The technology lays bare the whole ‘chain’ of events that links the start (usually a grower or producer), the middle (importers and distributors) and the end (venue and consumers). Crucially, it is incorruptible, as each segment of information is stored on a different server. Applying these ideas, we can start to understand exactly what is involved in the production of our food and drinks.

As we began working more closely with producers across our venues, we found this was one of the points where we could be most proud. Reuse is grand, but empowering good practice and removing those that exploit it is way more impactful.

But this isn’t unique to us. We all have buying power, and we as the conduit between farmer and guest have the opportunity to make profound changes.

That’s where Blocktail comes in

We’re at the start of our journey, and we can’t do this alone. Collaboration is critical. We need access to suppliers. We need brave brand partners. We need progressive developers. We need passion and power in equal measures.

So, does Blocktail inspire you? Do you see a role for your skills or an opportunity for your brand? Are you ready to shape a better future?

If you’re interested, drop us a line at

See you at the bar, so together we can raise it!

Ryan Chetiyawardana and Robin Honhold

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