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NFC Raises Spirits for Tasmanian Distillery

Old Kempton Distillery is providing authentication and content about its whiskey products via HID Global's Trusted Tag solution, provided by Australian systems integrator AusNFC.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 12, 2019

Tasmanian foods and spirits are showcased at The Taste of Tasmania, an annual event at which "Tassies" (as Australians refer to those from the country's island state) can enjoy the best of their local products. In 2018, the show included a local whiskey tagged with Near Field Communication (NFC) functionality that allowed consumers to authenticate and engage with bottles before buying them.

The Old Kempton Distillery (OKD), located in Kempton, Tasmania, is utilizing NFC technology to combat counterfeits, as well as to improve the branding of its high-value whiskey, gin and other liquor products as the company expands its market share across Australia and around the world. The NFC solution, provided by AusNFC, employs HID Global's Trusted Tag solution to uniquely identify each bottle and deliver Web-based content from OKD regarding the company and the products with which users interact via their smartphone. That content can include videos, membership offers and links to websites.

OKD's Robbie Gilligan
AusNFC is a startup systems integrator that aims to solve problems via technology, initially in the honey and whisky markets. "In the near future, other areas will involve fresh food such as seafood," says Larry Hower, AusNFC's CEO. In this case, he explains, the firm provided HID's Trusted Tag Services labels, along with software that captures and displays content, including messaging and graphics that consumers can view and engage with.

OKD has been in operation for several generations, the company reports, distilling and aging hand-crafted liquors out of local produce. The firm expects to sell more than 10,000 bottles annually for the next five years, based on its current stock levels. OKD sells its products to local pubs and stores across Australia. "We see a real value in having our bottles in bars and restaurants," says Robbie Gilligan, OKD's owner, "as these are the venues which give us great exposure, and they can engage more with their customers." However, the company also strives to expand its sales to stores beyond Australia.

One challenge that a high-value liquor distillery faces is counterfeits, Gilligan says, and the company had looked at several technologies that could provide a solution to this problem, including QR codes and other hidden printed codes. It then began looking into NFC. "As the president of the Tasmanian Whisky and Spirits Association [previously TWPA], I saw the potential in using this technology to help us protect the brand of Tasmanian whisky," he states, adding, "We also saw the potential benefits for ourselves here at Old Kempton Distillery," since the technology would let OKD know how its products were being interacted with.

With the NFC technology, a bar or restaurant owner can confirm that every bottle is authentic. But NFC can also benefit consumers at stores, since they, too, can confirm authenticity and engage further with the brand.

First, OKD's staff attached a 13.56 MHz NFC tag, compliant with the ISO 14443 standard, to each bottle of premium malt whiskey or other liquor. The tag has a unique ID number encoded on it that links a user's smartphone with the cloud-based server provided by HID Global.

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