On hindsight, it was only a matter of time before someone put two and two together. That is, the affordances of techy du jour non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and their implicit ability to identify authenticity and ownership; and the old world of luxury alcohol, whether for investment, trading or personal enjoyment, as married under the Blockbar banner, an online marketplace for spirits and wine enabled by NFTs.
Unlike ‘traditional’ NFTs as we know them, buying an NFT from Blockbar doesn’t denote ownership of any digital assets, whether that be video, art or music. Instead, they’re pretty much owners’ certificates, each representing an actual, real-world bottle of rarified spirits stored at Blockbar’s facility right here in Singapore.
“We were beginning to explore the world of NFTs and became instantly hooked. We thought many brands were diving into the NFT space simply because they were trendy – but we saw a bigger picture. Our goal was to find a role for NFTs where they would solve a real problem we saw in the marketplace – authenticity,” says Dov and Sam in a joint reply.
More than that, it also helped solve pain points the co-founders personally experienced during their years working at alcohol retailer Duty Free Americas – “proof of authenticity, storage and accessibility.”
With Blockbar, one can buy and sell exceptional spirits and wine without any of the usual faffing about with logistics or storage. Getting it shipped to you directly, if you intend to drink the stuff you’re trading, would result in the NFT’s destruction (as quality can no longer be assured). Either way, as is customary from an NFT-enabled marketplace, consumers have an option of forking our cold hard cash or cryptocurrency – Ethereum is their blockchain of choice.
“Buying at most spirits auctions usually means buying from a third party or another auction house, putting trust in a source that is removed from the brand itself. Blockbar allows buyers to purchase from all over the world and all drops come directly from brand owners – eliminating any doubt of buying inauthentic products. BlockBar also provides storage of all bottles purchased on the platform, a service traditional auction houses do not offer,” they add.
Being the forerunners in NFT-enabled alcohol trading, Blockbar also has the chance to score sweet deals with established brands, which means exclusive deals ahead of the competition for consumers. Their opening launch back in October featured 15 exceptional 46-year-old bottles of Glenfiddich 1973 single malt scotch whisky – which sold out in four seconds, with a few other bottles having been resold on the marketplace since said launch. They’ve since followed up with rare vintage rum by Dictador, as well as Penfolds in the vino department.
Blockbar’s latest partnership is with 182-year-old Scottish distillery, The Dalmore – the Dalmore Decades No. 4 Collection, an assortment of four exceptional drams, will be offered as an NFT. It will be the only set within the Dalmore Decades selection to correspond to an NFT, making it a rather unique piece of history for collectors looking to bag their hands on the distillery’s first digital collaboration.
“Many customers are returning to see what else they can invest in, becoming fans of new brands and interested in exploring ways of growing new or existing collections. We’re creating a great community that we’re excited to see grow in the future,” they say. “The success of our recent launches with prove there is an appetite for NFT minted purchases of luxury wines and spirits.”
These customers, according to the marketplace’s co-founders, don’t necessarily come from any one demographic – instead, they’re probably a “digital savvy investor looking to diversify their portfolio”, along with sporadic interest from “existing spirits collectors, who appreciate the rarity of our launches and crypto skeptics, who feel comfortable purchasing an NFT due to it being backed by a physical product.”
(Related: How to invest in whisky)
They’re certainly believers in the power of high-end spirits as an investment vehicle – their website boldly declares that high-end spirit investments have been outperforming the S&P 500 and gold for the last decade, while seeing a close-to-sixfold increase in popularity.
Future launches include more exclusive NFT releases with other leading brands, as well as the possibility of an auction on Blockbar’s website.