There are several notable distilleries in the Scottish highlands, but one that has captured the imaginations of many whisky connoisseurs is the Brora distillery. It shuttered its doors in 1983 during the whisky slump, but recently restarted production again this year after a three-year restoration period.

Now, Brora whiskies that have been maturing in casks for the past three decades are emerging, and with them, hefty sums of money. In 2017, an unnamed buyer bought a Brora single malt that was distilled in 1972 for £14,500 at an auction.

Another expression has also emerged. Singapore-based 1982 Brora Pte Ltd launched digital tokens – tagged to one physical bottle – backed by an actual eponymous cask of Brora 1982 whisky (notes below).

The tasting notes of the Brora 1982 cask.
The tasting notes of the Brora 1982 cask.

There are 68 tokens representing the 68 bottles that will emerge once the cask is opened in 2027. According to Gerald Ong, owner of 1982 Brora Pte Ltd, “the initial group was launched at £8,500 per token and are now currently trading at £9,600 each.”

Unlike NFTs, these tokens, or asset-backed securities (ABSs), are interchangeable. However, the ABSs are issued utilising blockchain technology.

“Buying a tokenised ABS in this case is like buying a unit in a condominium years before construction is completed – except that, in a hot property market, you have the option of selling the flat before the launch. This way, you don’t have to wait years before realising some appreciation in the value,” says Ong.

“The Brora 1982 is already valuable at 39 years old, but bottling it 2027 will make it even more so. At 45 years old, it is possibly the oldest and most mature expression of Brora whisky ever produced. But token holders don’t have to wait for so long. The tokenisation programme permits them to trade these ultra luxury assets on a digital exchange and monetise the future value of the whisky even before the physical bottling.”

Another ghost distillery – Port Ellen – that Diageo brought back at the same time as Brora, also had similar tokens issued in the past. Since its listing in Jan 2021, the Port Ellen tokens are currently trading at £11,500 per token, up 37 per cent.

These tokens are available on Hg Exchange (HGX), a private, member-driven exchange licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.