In the world of whiskey, traditional, proven methods rarely meet innovative ideas to create something extraordinary, which is why innovation in this space is exciting. The cornerstone of traditional whiskey lies in the process of distillation and aging. In its conventional form, the aging of whiskey predominantly happens in charred oak barrels – this is where blond spirits gain their amber shades and a multitude of flavors. Essentially, the spirit’s age is determined by its time spent in these barrels, during which it acquires unprecedented depth and complexity of taste.
Operating within the MAHD (Modified Agile for Hardware Development) framework, Landi Industries has brought fresh perspectives to this age-old art. They’ve orchestrated a cross-discipline team of experts to tackle the complex challenge of developing a repeatable, technically flawless system: bringing complex whiskey brewing innovation from a traditionally slow and painstaking chemical process to a swiftly executable application for use by any whiskey- lover in their home kitchens.
This ambitious team kick-started their pursuit with insights gathered from intricate guides designed by a team of whiskey chemists. The guides detailed whiskey’s step-by-step journey: from being a base ingredient undergoing malting, mashing, fermentation, and distillation to evolving into the spirit that flows into maturation containers for that final, crucial transformation. The team leveraged this knowledge to craft several conceptual rapid prototypes.
Their prototypes focus on evaluating various form factor aesthetics and assessing practicality for end-users, intending to couple reliability with ease of use while retaining the essence of the rich flavors emblematic of traditionally aged whiskeys.
The whiskey chemists had crafted their accelerated whiskey aging method using sous-vide, which brought a new way to brew whiskey without the traditional creation process or pressurization. Their approach simulated the seasons of a whiskey barrel within five days, capitalizing custom light spectrums, heat profile(s), and oxidization patterns.
Like Walter teaching Jesse in Breaking Bad, the chemists’ high-level documented instructions needed to be captured and transcribed to allow the Landi team to create a structured product design that could be seamlessly replicated for mass production. The chemists believed in the potential of their innovative brewing method and were committed to bringing it to the market, but they weren’t sure
what that meant or how to get it there. The challenge lay in turning this PoC (Proof of Concept) into an MVP (Minimal Viable Product), embodying technical precision and repeatability, exactly where Landi’s guidance would be drawn upon.
Landi was tasked to solve various factors, such as the fact that the product needed to use a glass containment vessel with self-actuating “breathing ports”, consistent heat transfer through the glass external to the vessel, managing stirring and cooling of the solutions, building a unique rapid convection heating system within a reactor to distribute heat evenly. With this being a consumer good, it brought the added challenge of doing all of this while keeping the design small enough to fit and work together inside a container the size of a pint glass.
The Approach and Process
Bringing a comprehensive understanding of the whiskey aging method, the technological challenges posed, the chemists’ vision, and a shared love for whiskey, Landi was able to align its efforts with the heart of the chemists’ innovation. Landi worked alongside the chemists to understand the innovative brewing method, the challenges in productizing it, and their vision for the final product. The collaboration bridged the gap between innovation and practical implementation, allowing fluid communication, even with the distance between the individuals, with regular weekly updates to the chemists that included videos, photos, and reports on the project’s progress, allowing their marketing team to stay in pace with development.
Bringing a comprehensive understanding of the whiskey aging method, the technological challenges posed, the chemists’ vision, and a shared love for whiskey, Landi was able to align its efforts with the heart of the chemists’ innovation. Landi worked alongside the chemists to understand the innovative brewing method, the challenges in productizing it, and their vision for the final product.
The collaboration bridged the gap between innovation and practical implementation, allowing fluid communication, even with the distance between the individuals, with regular weekly updates to the chemists that included videos, photos, and reports on the project’s progress, allowing their marketing team to stay in pace with development.
The product design team began by hand-drawing concepts to visualize the product’s physical form. Working with a broad network of experts, including a 3D printing foundry company to experiment with high-temperature sand, an expert brownsmith helped to guide the team in the design of the copper heater core, and advanced analysis along the way allowed for the creation of a pressure locking system. Custom copper, white oak, and plastic pieces were then created to accommodate an optimized heat transfer and chemical formulation. The stirring and cooling strategy utilized a magnetized fan, which was also utilized by the convection heating system.
The end result of the PoC was a device that had a glass pressure vessel in a custom copper reactor with a white oak lid that allowed the liquid to go through an entire simulated season of environmental changes while being safe for a consumer to interact with; followed quickly into a PoV (Proof of Value) that allowed the unit to meet the right texture and size conditions for a kitchen environment and well as aesthetic finish for a customer to visually enjoy.
The rapid refinement of the PoV allowed the creation of various low- cost but finished-looking prototypes, which explored diverse form factors and tested practical user applications.
Ultimately, 10-20 models of the agreed MVP were built to distribute for advanced failure mode and consumer testing, including how the consumer would remove the glass from the device while it is still hot, assessing the lid by opening it, hitting it, and dropping it all while iterating changes back into the SolidWorks PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) for finalized build.
Once the physical product was ready to move on to the next phase, Landi shifted to focus on the software that would interface with the product. Landi took a mobile-first approach, knowing the end user would control the device from their mobile phone. Starting with low- fidelity wireframes in Balsamiq allowed us to bring a magnified focus to the experience before considering aesthetics.
The user-facing experience is powered by an Ubuntu IoT embedded environment built within the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform to accommodate the inventor’s technological background and expanding team of individuals.
A custom on-board control script was built utilizing Python with a self-hosted progressive web application (PWA) that allowed the device to either work whether or not it was connected to the internet, ensuring that customers weren’t at risk of losing or ruining their whiskey as a result of unreliable internet.
The final product was a device that could simulate the whiskey aging process in just five days. Distillers could control and monitor the process from the responsive PWA (Progressive Web App) system. This product allowed whiskey enthusiasts to get creative and personalize their batches based on their tastes or needs — satisfying an unmet need in an ever-growing market.
This achievement marked a significant leap forward in the chemists’ journey and showcased the power of collaborative innovation; one chemist stated, “This machine is bulletproof and works way above expectations.” Landi Industries and the chemists’ partnership exemplifies how the convergence of technical expertise and visionary innovation can lead to transformative outcomes and turn an idea into a market-ready reality.
Research and Development
User interviews (ie. comprehensive personas) Process mapping (ie. end to end user journeys) User-driven product requirements
Competitor product analysis
Design and Creation
Prototyping Software (low fidelity) (eg. Balsamiq) Hand-drawn industrial designs
Photoshop renderings (ie. customer feedback)
Solidworks with PLM (ie. Complete rendering and creation)
Platform Architecture (eg. AWS IoT)
Application Development (eg. React, Python, Cognito) Embedded Linux (eg. device operation)
Automated Testing and Build (eg. Github Actions)
Modified Agile Hardware Design (MAHD)
JIRA CMMI for internal work tracking
Harvest Integration for project budgeting and oversight
At Landi Industries, we’re dedicated to pushing the boundaries of innovation and bringing transformative ideas to life. If you’ve been inspired by our success in revolutionizing the whiskey aging process, and you have a vision or project of your own, we’re here to help. Our expert team is ready to assist you in turning your ideas into reality, whether it involves developing a prototype, refining your design, or planning for development. Don’t miss the opportunity to collaborate with us on your next project. Contact Landi Industries today, and let’s embark on a journey of innovation and excellence together. Your groundbreaking idea could be the next success story.