Are NFTs the next big thing for high-end whiskey collectors?
Two entrepreneurs who were behind a record $ 2.3 million sale of a 1991 The Macallan dish earlier this month certainly believe it.
The double cask, a sherry butter distilled at The Macallan, which currently holds about 600 bottles of 30-year-old whiskey, was sold at auction. It included a digital asset from artist Trevor Jones called “The Angel’s Share,” which is an uncompressed scan of Jones’ oil painting as well as an animated component.
The sale was a partnership between Origin Protocol, a company that drops NFTs, unique digital assets that a person can buy or sell in the Ethereum blockchain, and Metacask, a marketplace for whiskey casks NFTs. Origin was part of the $ 11.7 million sale for musician 3LAU and $ 760,000 on the Charlie Bit Me video, has worked with controversial YouTube star Jake Paul and recently hired Paris Hilton as a strategic investor.
Nim Siriwardana, co-founder of Metacask, said the basics of an NFT barrel auction look like a traditional barrel auction. Private buyers trade barrels stored on-site at a distillery or under binding elsewhere, and depending on how the liquid ages, they hold on to it for decades as the value of the actual spirit on the barrel increases (though, given the angel’s share, there will be less liquid and fewer potential bottles as the years go by). The bottling is done by the collector and these bottles are stored or given away or they are sold at a traditional auction house like Sotheby’s.
“The owner had gone to Bonhams and had received a valuation for it until we can with and said, let’s do this NFT,” Siriwardana said. “When you buy this NFT, you are now the owner of the dish. It’s a slightly different concept than what you find with art, how often the asset itself is NFT. Here, NFT is also the contract that you own the dish. ”
Earlier this year, Bonhams had rated the dish without the artwork between $ 1.1 and $ 1.2 million, Siriwardana said. Metacask started bidding on this dish with the digital artwork for $ 1.75 million.
Matthew Liu, co-founder of Origin Protocol, sees a few different benefits of NFTs for advanced consumables such as whiskey casks, but also advanced handbags or watches.
The first is the ability to show your purchase to the world – for those who are into that sort of thing.
“You have this much-appreciated possession of this rare whiskey, which you can now showcase on a variety of NFT platforms, such as Origin, OpenSea, on a blog or social media. There is an extra social element. This industry has not really embraced technology in the past and it could create much more interest in high-ticket options, ”Liu said. “When you buy something in the material world, you can only show it to a few dozen people or place it in a museum or gallery.”
A less flashy application is verification. NFT can prove the origin of the original creator and keep track of the blockchain every time it changes hands.
In the current non-technological system, brokers keep track of privately owned whiskey casks, Siriwardana said, and can fudge records and double-sell assets. Each cask sold by NFT will have a unique reference number that contains information on how it changed hands, but could also include information such as when the whiskey on the cask was tested by distilleries or experts.
“[The information] would be in the metadata of the NFT itself, ”said Siriwardana. “It would be difficult to commit some kind of double-selling scam because it would be easy for a broker to check this information to make sure they are not selling someone else’s dish.”
William Grant and Sons recently sold 15 bottles of 46-year-old Glenfiddich whiskey for $ 18,000 each, each accompanied by its own NFT-revolving image of the bottle that serves as a counterfeit proof of ownership – and a way to brag about the purchase on the social.
William Grant and Sons’ luxury manager Will Peacock told Forbes contributor Bernard Marr that NFTs were a way to deepen consumer engagement and reach out to new collectors.
But Liu also sees NFTs as a potential source of revenue for distillers if they embrace the technology, through royalties, every time NFT changes hands, or a way for consumers to invest early in a bottle they otherwise could not afford or afford.
A spokesman for The Macallan said the Angels’ Share NFT and fad in an independent project and have no affiliation with Macallan. The whiskey from this cask will never be bottled as The Macallan Single Malt.
There is also an asset attached to the sale that has not been talked about: the physical oil painting by Jones.
“Trevor has it now in his studio and I got it,” Siriwardana said laughing. “It depends on whether I can afford it. We will see if the buyer who bought the NFT is interested in acquiring the physical piece. “