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How do NFTs translate in the spirit industry?

Jasmine Alimin
Jasmine Alimin • 6 min read
How do NFTs translate in the spirit industry?
Hot ticket items: Dictador Orlinski 5 Decades hand-painted bottle by French artist Richard Orlinski; The Chambers by Cask teamed with Mighty Jaxx to create bottles inspired by Chinese literary classic, Romance of the Three Kingdoms
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As much as we try to ignore it, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are here to stay. In the third quarter of 2021, sales volumes for NFTs grew to $10.7 billion — according to DappRadar — an eight-fold increase compared to the previous three months.

Typically used to represent any digitisable item, from art to video or audio recordings, an NFT is a blockchain-based, non-interchangeable non-fungible unit of data stored on a digital ledger. They are bought and sold online frequently with cryptocurrency.

You can also own NFTs of real-world objects such as rare alcohol collectibles via BlockBar, the world’s first direct to consumer NFT platform for wine and spirit products. One of the first brands to partner BlockBar last year was Scotch whisky label Glenfiddich, which successfully sold 15 bottles of a rare 46-year-old single malt for US$18,000 within minutes. Bidders received an NFT, which contained a revolving artistic impression of the bottle that would also function as a proof of authentication and certificate of ownership.

Dictating Dictador

Similarly, Colombian rum producer, Dictador partnered with BlockBar to sell 10 bottles of aged rum for US$25,000 a piece — featuring a 1976 Dictador Generations rum in an exquisite Lalique’s crystal decanter. The buyers received a digital receipt in the form of an NFT which can either be resold or redeemed. Apparently, in the resale market, the Dictador bottles are already selling for as much as US$36,000.

Marrying the art and spirits world, Dictador also sold the most expensive bottle of rum at US$100,000 featuring a hand-painted decanter by French contemporary artist Richard Orlinski at the Miami Art Basel last year. This work of art (still available for purchase) is part of the ‘Dictador Orlinski 5 Decades’ collection featuring sculptural decanters of well-aged rum from 1966, 1976, 1986, 1996 and 2006.

See also: Savouring South Africa’s finest

To further cement its position as an undisputed leader in investment-grade rum and supporter of the arts, Dictador recently launched an NFT-enabled treasury club called ArtHouse Spirits DAO (decentralised autonomous organisation) to promote its artistic collaborators. For a start, it will be selling 20,000 NFTs portraying maps of international cities on Dictador bottles created by Polish contemporary street art artist Mariusz Waras, aka M-city (his artistic pseudonym).

This treasury club has a host of other benefits. Apart from owning NFTs, members of this luxury closed community receive a welcome gift pack worth 300$, access to networking and tutorial events, treasury participation in the form of fractional ownership of unique rum inventory and many other benefits. Funds raised through NFT sales will be used to form the DAO’s Treasury, which will consist of hand-picked luxury assets with a proven price appreciation track record, providing a hopefully stable passive income stream for its members.

See also: Six biggest ways wine will change

The Johnnie Walker experience

Last month, the world’s No. 1 Scotch whisky, Johnnie Walker released seven bottles of extremely rare 48-year-old Johnnie Walker Masters of Flavour sold at US$35,000 on BlockBar — a first for the heritage brand. In addition to the NFT, buyers will also get their very own digital impression of the bottle by artist Kode Abdo aka BossLogic and have access to an exclusive brand experience in Scotland.

Blended by malt master Donna Anderson, Johnnie Walker Masters of Flavour is crafted from fleetingly rare whiskies – all aged for at least 48 years – from the four “ghost” distilleries of Port Dundas, Brora, Glen Albyn and Glenury Royal. It sits in a handblown, green baccarat Crystal decanter and is beautifully presented in a handcrafted, wooden cabinet.

Tied to each bottle is an opportunity to take a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Johnnie Walker Princes Street – the brand’s visitor experience in Edinburgh, Scotland, where they will immerse themselves in the flavour journey of Johnnie Walker and the country’s whisky-making culture. Staying at the palatial Gleneagles Townhouse, NFT owners will tour the iconic Glenkinchie Distillery, take a guided tour of the Diageo Archive and enjoy VIP tastings of only the rarest and most collectible whiskies from the Diageo collection.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms

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On the local front, homegrown purveyors of exquisite Scotch whiskies, The Chambers by Cask, have teamed up with award-winning lifestyle-tech company Mighty Jaxx, to create a trio of uniquely crafted collectible bottles inspired by legendary characters in the Chinese literary classic, Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Featuring 20-, 22-, and 23-year-old single-malt whiskies by Caperdonich, Glen Keith and Glen Keith respectively, the design for each bottle is inspired by the personality of one of the three generals — Guan Yu, Liu Bei, and Zhang Fei — each matching the profile of the curated whisky.

Conceived as a phygital collectible collection, each set priced at S$5,888 is accompanied by a limited drop of NFTs available on Mighty Jaxx’s mobile app that will certify ownership and unlock digital artwork of the bottle de- signs. Holders of the NFTs will also get the chance to purchase a limited miniature trio of the Mighty Cask selection for S$188.

Relive Sago House’s long-gone cocktails

Doing things a little differently, local award-winning bar Sago House is selling its cocktails using ERC-721 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain available on all NFT marketplaces. Available at $100 a token, the small investment unlocks 10 original cocktails which you can sell online or physically redeem at the bar.

The idea behind this initiative, led by founders Jay Gray, Desiree Jane Silva and George Abishek, was to commemorate their first anniversary culminating in over 270 original cocktails, along with bragging rights as No. 31 in Asia’s Best Bars 2022 and World’s 50 Best Bars 2021 at No. 63.

Every week since the bar opened, the team has offered an original menu of new cocktails across six categories: strong up, strong down, daisies, highballs, sours and tropical drinks. Once the week was over, those six cocktails were gone forever … until now. Owning a Sago House NFT gives exclusive access to open up the menu time capsule and enjoy the purchased cocktail.

This initiative is the bar’s independent way of doing business, serving as a digital kickstarter to help fund their forthcoming first cocktail book, Don’t Try, Volume I. Sago House NFT holders will enjoy exclusive member benefits, including first access to the book when it’s ready and exclusive member events.

A spirited future

If like us, you’re wondering why can’t alcohol brands simply sell spirits the traditional way through an auction house or via their own digital spaces? The answer is why not? Platforms like BlockBar are a godsend because they do all the work to prepare ownership ledgers, ensure authenticity, and store your highly-prized spirits while you decide what you want to do with them.

Whichever way the alcohol brands intend to sell their NFT collectibles, whether on its own or paired with digital art or fancy excursions — we can’t wait for what they will think of next — there is still the investment element attached to it. If a higher resale value isn’t enough to convert you, just think of how hip you will sound telling your friends that you own alcohol NFTs.

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