A Scottish whisky distillery and an ambitious digital tech firm have formed a partnership in order to use Blockchain technology in an effort to safeguard the industry against counterfeits and fraud.

The high-tech collaboration means every single bottle of spirit from the Ardnamurchan Distillery will have its own unique story, with whisky fans able to find out every detail of the bottle of spirit, from the field the barley was farmed to who bottled it and when.

The information will be stored on a digital platform, accessed by scanning a unique QR code, and using Blockchain software developed by arc-net, which operates out of Edinburgh and Belfast.

And amid growing concerns about counterfeits of rare Scotch, the innovation also means whisky importers and collectors can have absolute certainty in what they are purchasing, heralding a major development in food security, traceability and transparency.

“Every detail of each bottle’s story…”

Alex Bruce, managing director of Adelphi, which owns and operates the Ardnamurchan Distillery, said arc-net’s Blockchain innovation would be piloted on their new Ardnamurchan 2017AD spirit, a follow-up to last year’s hugely successful 2016AD spirit.

Mr Bruce added: “By simply scanning a bottle on their phone, customers will be able to find out unrivalled detail about their spirit. Every detail of each bottle’s story will be recorded, from when it was made to where it was exported, and much more. The full Adelphi and Ardnamurchan story will be there.

“Story-telling and authenticity are major components of the Scotch whisky industry. By pioneering this technology, Adelphi is both advancing and uniting these vital ingredients.”

Digital certificates of autheticity

As part of the partnership, arc-net has uniquely marked and authenticated each bottle of Adelphi’s latest Ardnamurchan Distillery 2017AD limited spirit release, giving full traceability of each bottle from the distillery through the supplier network to the consumer.

As the initiative is rolled out, each buyer of Ardnamurchan spirit and future whisky releases will receive a digital certificate of authenticity eliminating the risk of fraud and counterfeit substitutions that are becoming an increasing problem in the £5.5 billion whisky market.

In addition, customers, whether individual buyers or larger retailers, will be able to connect with Adelphi to learn about each of the unique events in the manufacturing and distilling process that created each bottle of spirit.

Enabling automation

For Adelphi, the adoption of arc-net’s platform will enable the business to automate the capture of all aspects of the manufacturing and distilling processes, eliminating legacy record-keeping systems and providing transparent information that enables improved operational efficiency. The arc-net platform also provides product and supply chain insights.

Kieran Kelly, CEO of arc-net, said: “Blockchain enables a new era of transparency and product authentication. It’s a fantastic opportunity to work with such a forward-thinking company like Adelphi. Alex and his team are pushing the envelope of spirit and whisky production in terms of quality and traceability, and also demonstrating a realistic and pioneering approach to renewable energy and sustainability, and arc-net are delighted to be a part of their brand story.”

Mr Bruce added: “Adelphi is thrilled to be part of arc-net’s vision to use technology to bring transparency and authenticity to the rapidly growing single malt whisky market. We have a vision for the future and using the platform is an integral component in our ability to capture and share production, process and product data with our customers, simply by scanning a QR code on the bottle.

“In addition to a growing number of countries, globally, recognising Scotch Whisky’s Geographical Indication [GI], we also believe it to be essential that the consumer is able to understand the craftsmanship of making it, and for the producer to ensure the security of their route to market. In addition, the arc-net platform will give us the opportunity, as a nascent distiller, to share and communicate our love for the brand and ensure our customers have the ability to visualise and validate our products as they move across the globe.”

Innovation leading to growth

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink said: “We believe we can double the size of our food and drink industry to £30 billion by 2030. Innovation and provenance are two of the building blocks of that strategy.

“Scotland’s brand is growing globally and we must work hard to tell our story and, crucially, protect it too.  So it’s great to see the Ardnamurchan Distillery merging cutting-edge technology with the traditional distilling process to protect the all-important provenance of their newly launched 2017AD spirit.”