Published Date

August 21, 2018

Robolab, a robotics startup from Estonia just closed their second seed investment round of 650,000 euros to build AI-powered robot bartender - Yanu.

Estonia, August 20, 2018 - Robolab, a leading service robotics startup based in Estonia just closed their second seed investment round of €650,000 to build an AI-powered robot bartender called Yanu.

Yanu is the first portable, fully autonomous bartending unit that utilizes unique AI-technology to make the process of serving drinks more efficient and precise. The futuristic robotic bartender takes orders, processes payments, mixes and serves cocktails – nearly without human personnel. Yanu also uses chatbot technology, allowing the unit to communicate with clients, remember their drink preferences, and offer local sightseeing tips.

Funded by angel investors and Nostro Capital fund, Robolab will also run an ICO with a $10m hardcap from October this year to build community and raise additional money for scaling up the production. Angel investors who fund the project more than $150,000 become among the first owners of Yanu, and will receive tokens that purchase beverages that work at any of the devices. Purchases made in tokens give a substantial discount on both.

“For us this a great opportunity to build our global community and let retail investors be part of our growth story, plus blockchain enables us to solve several problems,” explains Robolab CEO, Alan Adojaan.

Yanu solves bottlenecks in both hospitality and entertainment sectors, such as rising labor costs, human error, high staff turnover and lack of sufficient training, all while returning valuable square footage back to business owners. Due to Yanu’s complete automation, it significantly reduces cost per drink by serving 100-150 drinks per hour. A similar performance would otherwise require up to 4 full-time workers.

First robots are expected to hit the market in early 2019. Yanu will initially be distributed in airports, restaurants, hotels, cruise ships, and entertainment venues globally. 

Published Date

New York, August 20, 2018 – The Chinese baijiu, Hengshui Laobaigan received top honors at the recent Global Spirit Awards Competition held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Judges for the competition sampled the world’s best liquors from several categories including vodka, tequila, rum, bourbon, scotch whisky, liqueur and Chinese liquor. The Laobaigan 1915 was awarded the prestigious Best in Category award. In addition, The Laobaigan 5 Star and Laobaigan 1915 were each named Double Gold Winners by the panel of judges.

The jury for the 2018 Global Spirit Awards Competitionwas comprised of 18 experienced spirits masters with a strong background in spirits production and bartending. They included Steve Beal, founder of the San Francisco world spirits contest and one of America's top distilling experts.The judging process for the specialty spirit categories began with a double-blind tasting preliminary round, with the best spirits advancing to the Sweepstakes Rounds, where the Double Gold and The Best of Show Categories were awarded.  

Americanscan be hesitant to try Chinese baijiu (the term, “baijiu” means “clear liquor”) due to its exotic taste. As far back as 1915, Hengshui Laobaigan won thePanama World Exposition top prize and marked the product’s entrance into the US market. Today’s multiple prizes from the Global Spirits Awards continues the tradition of Hengshui Laobaigan's baijiuearning recognition and respect fromwestern judges.

The Secret of Hengshui Laobaigan’s Brewing: The Mysterious Underground Urn

There are many types of Chinese liquor, which can be challenging for the uninitiated. In China, baijiu is often used to accompany meals and is paired to match the taste of Chinese food. Most Chinese baijiu have a strong and distinct flavor, which can cause many American drinkers to choose more familiar liquors.

But the fact that Hengshui Laobaigan 1915 was recognized by the Global Spirit Awards suggests that not all Chinese spirits are the same. The liquor’s distinct taste is known as “Lao Bai Gan Xiang Xing,” which comes from its unique underground Urn brewing method.

Unlike the western custom of using oak barrels or sherry barrels for storage, Hengshui Laobaigan produces their liquors in ceramic tanks buried in the ground.

A study from the China Academy of Food and Fermentation showed that Hengshui Laobaigan's dry ground cylinder fermentation process can effectively isolate impurities and harmful microbial pollution, the impurity content is less than one-tenth of China's national standard, creating a more mellow and clean flavor.

The process, which has been used for thousands of years, produces a great tasting liquor without a needlessly high alcohol content. 

Chinese scientists have also conducted microbiological research on the Laobaigan underground cylinder brewing technology. The Microorganism and Applied Enzyme Laboratory of Jiangnan University collaborated with Hengshui Laobaigan to produce a study entitled, "Environmental Microbiota Drives Microbial Processes and Metabolic Profiles for Chinese Liquor" published by Dr. Xueshan Wang. The study was selected as the cover article by Applied and Environmental Microbiology, an authoritative publication founded by the American Society for Microbiology.

This Mystery Liquor Conquered America a Hundred Years Ago

In 1915, The 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition Was Held In San Francisco. Hengshui Laobaigan's Predecessor, Zhili Kaoliang Liquor, was submitted to the panel of judges. With its mellow and sweet taste and transparent color, Zhili Kaoliang won the "First Class Medallion" of the Panama Pacific International Exposition.

To commemorate this milestone in the company’s history, the manufacturer introduced “Laobaigan 1915” to the marketplace. The product’s recent award at the Global Spirit Awards proves that Chinese liquor can be adapted to American tastes.  

Today, with western liquors such as whiskey and vodka consumed within the Chinese market, the makers of Laobaigan seek to foster a reciprocal appreciation for Chinese baijiu. With its award-wining taste and thousand-year history, Laobaigan deserves a place in every American liquor cabinet. 

Published Date

TORONTO, Aug. 09, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Eden Grove Cider debuts its line of alcoholic beverages, beginning with Perfect Pear, a pairing of Ontario’s star pear varietals Bosc and Bartlett. Using only pears hand-picked at the peak of their ripeness, Perfect Pear Cider combines the Bartlett’s smooth buttery texture with the Bosc’s juicy sweetness to produce a well-balanced, gluten-free and vegan friendly cider.

Founded by mother and son duo Pat Macdonald and Ian Macdonald Jr., Eden Grove is made in partnership with farmers. Fruit for each cider is harvested and handpicked from Puddicombe Farms located in Winona County, less than 100 kilometers west of Toronto. In an effort to stay as local as possible and adhere to the ‘farm to table’ concept, the fruit is pressed, fermented and packaged on-site at the farm, which has been in the Puddicombe family since 1797.

“We are proud to work with the Puddicombe family to produce the best cider possible,” says Ian Macdonald Jr., co-owner of Eden Grove Cider. “The first in our soon-to-be line of ciders, Perfect Pear, fills a need in the market for a deliciously pure and simple cider, made with all locally sourced ingredients.”

Best served cold, Perfect Pear has a crisp taste, semi-dry in character. With a light palate profile and balanced acidity, the refreshing cider is a subtly sweet alternative to radlers and white wines. Ideal as a thirst quencher on its own, the cider also pairs well with salads, fried foods, grilled meats and vegetables, burgers, sausages, creamy cheese, curries and spicier fare.

Perfect Pear is now available in more than 60 LCBO stores across the province, with additional varieties of Eden Grove Cider making their way to shelves soon.

Published Date

New figures from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), the largest global provider of wines and spirits qualifications, show that demand for wine and spirit education in Canada is higher than ever.


+5% more Canadians took a WSET qualification in wines, spirits or sake over the last academic year, making a total of 5,527 candidates overall for the year. WSET reported a record 94,822 candidates globally in the academic year finishing 31 July 2018, an increase of +11% on last year.


While the popularity of wine education continues to soar, consumers’ penchant for spirits has boosted demand for spirits education. The increasing popularity of spirits has led more enthusiasts and professionals to seek deeper knowledge about what they, and their customers, are drinking. The WSET Level 2 Award in Spirits was the qualification that saw particularly significant growth globally, with candidate numbers up +55% versus last year.


WSET Chief Executive Ian Harris, says, “2017/18 has been another successful year for WSET as we continue to strengthen our offer to maintain our ‘best in class’ reputation. Global demand makes wine education the bread and butter of our business, but it is great to see such high growth in spirits qualifications as we prepare for the launch of the first WSET Level 3 Award in Spirits next year.”


Markets on the Move


Continued growth puts China top of the table with the highest total number of WSET candidates. The region brought in +9% more candidates over the last academic year, totalling 21,986 overall. The UK remained strong with a total of 19,460 candidates, matching last year, while USA saw the strongest growth of the top three markets with candidate numbers up +24% to 14,204. Canada remained strong in 4th place.


Top 10 WSET markets for the academic year 2017/18 (growth from previous year):


1. China* (+9%)

2. UK (+0%)

3. USA (+24%)

4. Canada (+5%)

5. Australia (+18%)

6. France (+17%)

7. UAE (+40%)

8. Switzerland (-1%)

9. Brazil (+75%)

10. Netherlands (+6%)


Availability of WSET courses is stronger than ever, with 110 new Approved Programme Providers (APPs) opening over the last year, and courses launching in new markets Gibraltar and Uruguay. There are now 33 WSET Diploma centres worldwide, following the recent additions of Bordeaux Wine Academy, Napa Valley Wine Academy and American Wine School. Overall, there are now over 800 APPs offering WSET qualifications to trade professionals and consumer enthusiasts in over 70 countries.


Looking Ahead


Over the next academic year, the education and awards teams will be carrying out the final stages of preparation ahead of the launch of WSET’s new and enhanced qualifications in August 2019, completing the separation of WSET’s qualifications into three distinct subject-matter streams: wine, spirits and sake. The first-of-its-kind Level 3 Award in Spirits will undergo an intensive pilot programme, whilst materials will be finalised for the Level 2 Award in Wines and the new flagship Diploma in Wines. Further details about these courses will be announced in Spring 2019.


The new academic year will also see the Level 1 Award in Wines and Level 1 Award in Spirits both become available through online study, in addition to the existing classroom course offering.


To learn more about WSET’s qualifications or to find a local Approved Programme Provider, visit ; <p><em>*Includes mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan</em></p>""


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