Is there anything better than a good whisky? Well, yes actually. A good whisky that comes out of a fantastical steampunk machine.

Matt Advertising commissioned us to design and produce a sensational whisky pouring machine for Black Bottle Whisky. So that’s what we did. In 6 weeks.

Top view into the machine.

The machine in-situ at the Steamworks bar in Johannesburg.

How does it work, you ask? You insert a coin, crank a handle, pull a lever, and watch the intricate magic unfold in typical steampunk style. The end result: a glass of whisky, poured in the most creative of ways.

During the design process we referenced old machine elements and functionality to give the machine a steampunk aesthetic. But, surprise! Although the machine may look vintage and antiquated, it is in fact fully electronic. It may seem like the crank wheel is moving the platform, but actually it’s an infrared sensor and stepper motors controlled with electronics, that are doing all the work.

Early concept drawings for the machine.

Some of the detailing on the machine including old Russian nixie tubes and treated metal.

The machine was made from a combination of sourced vintage pieces and manufactured components. All electronics were custom-made by our team of mad scientist (AKA our engineers and software developers).

    Included in this project were special features, such as:
  • Custom-made Black Bottle coins
  • 60-year old Russian Nixie tubes for the count-down numbers
  • Metal work produced by a real blacksmith (Michael Hayward)
  • Brass plating, using old-school electro-plating

We’ll drink to that.