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Learn how bourbon is made with augmented reality on your smartphone

Augmented reality brings displays and bottles alive through BlippAR.Augmented reality brings displays and bottles alive through BlippAR.
Augmented reality brings displays and bottles alive through BlippAR.Beam Suntory

Bourbon maker Beam Suntory is using augmented reality to show fans how bourbon is made.

While Beam Suntory is using virtual reality to promote its Jim Beam Devil’s Cut Bourbon in bars, the company is using the BlippAR app for “The Bourbon Revival” retail program in liquor stores, featuring Maker’s 46, Knob Creek, and Basil Hayden bourbons.

“The liquor store is a saturated environment, so we need to truly stand out in order to reach new consumers and educate shoppers on bourbon,” Michelle Cater, senior director of commercial marketing at Beam Suntory, says. “Based on our research, we know that new bourbon drinkers are eager to learn more about what makes bourbon unique. With augmented reality technology, we are able to engage shoppers in an immersive and interesting way.”

“The Bourbon Revival” is designed to work with any smartphone. Customers download the BlippAR app and use it to scan AR codes on retail displays and bourbon bottles. The app can unlock 3D content that appears through a user’s smartphone camera like a hologram. The launch action syncs the bourbon bottle with the movement of the smartphone, allowing the user to interact with the bottle and the liquid inside, build cocktails, and try out recipes.


The main objective of this marketing initiative is to introduce consumers to Maker’s 46, Knob Creek, and Basil Hayden’s bourbon. The AR experience includes Bourbon 101, which explores the history of bourbon, how bourbon is made, and information about bourbon vs. whiskey. It also offers a Bourbon Matchmaker, which pairs the correct bourbon based on one’s drinking and flavor preferences.

Cater says AR technology is like a “magic lens that unlocks astonishing and rewarding content from the physical world simply by viewing through a device.” This connects well with Beam Suntory’s consumer demographic of 28- to 45-year-olds, almost all of whom own a smartphone and many of whom are interested in using apps while shopping.

“So much of a consumer’s day is spent on their phone,” Cater says. “Through smartphones, we are able to engage with consumers, not only offering relevant content, but also connecting with them directly in a two-way dialogue.”

The company hopes this type of interaction leads to an increase in customers and bottles sold. According to research firm IBISWorld, Beam Suntory owns 16.4% of the $2.4 billion U.S. whiskey and bourbon industry.

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