NFTs - the Spirits
NFTs have caused a stir in the digital world, from the famous Ape to Paris Hilton’s exhaustive collection. With security improving in this field, Spirit brands have stepped in to create physical-digital hybrid avenues.
Dictador's dip into the NFT Metaverse, Source: Dictador
Non-fungible tokens can be simply understood as tokens that are blockchain based but cannot be interchanged and are hence unique units of data stored in digital accounts. Another important term to remember here is minting which is publishing your NFT token on the blockchain to make it purchasable.
Although digital art and musicians have taken up this space by storm, liquor companies have found a safe vortex through a famous source: BlockBar. Founded by the Falic Group, owner of Duty-Free Americas, this platform is the hot and happening marketplace for NFT trading. Dov Falic, Co-founder and CEO of BlockBar explains to LA POLO that the gap of authenticity, transparency and apt storage was what drove them to open this platform. He says: “We sell NFTs directly from luxury wines and spirits brands including Hennessy, Ardbeg, The Dalmore, Johnnie Walker, Remy Martin and Penfolds. Each NFT corresponds to an actual physical bottle, exclusive to BlockBar, available to purchase with ETH, credit card or wire transfer. Owners can resell, collect, gift, or at any point «burn» their NFT in exchange for the physical bottle, shipped globally from our state-of-the-art storage facility in Singapore.”
Johnnie Walker's drop on BlockBar, Source: BlockBar
Bottles on BlockBar marketplace vary from $350USD up to $226k USD. Each NFT dropped on BlockBar.com is backed by a physical asset, the bottle, which means the NFT acts as proof of ownership. Some of the bottle releases have extra utility, such as an NFT digital artwork attached, which the buyer can choose to hold on to or sell on OpenSea. Past drop examples include NFT artwork from RIon Wang with the Glenfiddich Chinese New Year release and BossLogic with Johnnie Walker’s 48 Year Old release.
Glenfiddich Chinese New Year NFT on BlockBar, Source: BlockBar
Another established company is the centurion Columbian Rum, Dictador, which created quite the wave in their finely aged rum, and tried and tested the waters slowly, building on the motive of becoming one of the finest NFT Spirit brands. In hopes of cementing their presence in the art world, after the fantastic collaboration with Lalique, they worked with contemporary visionary Richard Orlinski to create the first ever wholly encased artwork: the bottle itself.
Dictador x LALIQUE, Source: Dictador
Dictador x Richard Orlinski 5Decades RO Platinum, Source: Dictador
Dictador x Richard Orlinski 5Decades, RO Blue, Source: Dictador
The collaboration took place between Dictador Master Blender Hernan Parra and Orlinski wherein five specific decade casks were chosen: 1966, 1976, 1986, 1996 and 2006 each representing a decade of Orlinski’s life and fabulous career. Each cask was carefully chosen by Parra to represent the flavor without being overbearing and divided into models, RO Platinum, RO Gold, RO Red, RO Blue and RO Black. On special request one could even order the RO Handpainted set made with illustrative graphics of Orlinski’s signature styles.
Dictador x Richard Orlinski 5Decades, RO Handpainted, Source: Dictador
The digital art NFT of one of these bottles achieved a world record price of $100k at Art Basel and now the brand is going full force into creating an NFT Metaverse: Arthouse Dow. “With an exclusive availability of 20,000 members only, each member will receive a one-of-a-kind digital art NFT of a bottle relief depicting a city/city district for instance, the Paris arrondissement, New York Borough or a whole city which has the potential to increase the value,” says Ken Grier, Creative Director of Macallan Distillers and consultant to Dictador Rum.
Dictador Paris Detailed NFT, ArtHouse Dow, Source: Dictador
On the winery front, the market has seen the rise of all-NFT wine as pioneered by the brand Hello Fam. The brand made its grand entrance with two blends from Israel’s highest rated winery, Jezreel Valley alongside the digital asset. It was founded by Jacob Ner-David founder of Vinsent, Adam Ghahramani who runs the NFT community and collection, Untamed Elephants and Tiffany Wong, a designer with immense acumen in wine and spirit brands. Commenting on this partnership Adam tells LA POLO, “Vinsent has been a pioneering wine-tech company for many years. I was an early advisor and approached them on the novel wine-NFT concept and they were excited. They’re the ideal partner since they know the in-and-outs of wine shipping, logistics and have a relationship with 100+ wineries. Tiffany and I both come from the wine industry having worked together at Wine Spectator, we both co-founded the first-ever charity community, Untamed Elephants and hence we bought in much experience with NFT launches and community.” He explains the process with Hello Fam’s NFTs have two aspects that make it far simpler than the multidimensional NFT market: they can be bought/sold/traded digitally quite freely on the blockchain in contrast with the physical asset while holding onto the NFT provides membership into the community that comes with additional perks such as other free NFTs. “Our NFTs are backed by physical wine stored securely in an insured/climate-controlled facility and shipped directly from the winery to the facility so you are assured about provenance. Storage and Provenance are the important issues for wine investment,” he continues. Their 2021 launch, one Hello Fam Grape Fam NFT could bring one 6-bottle case of Hello Fam Genesis Vintage 2021 (the physical asset). Partnering with the artist Ha Yael they also provided individual works of art that could be framed and displayed and hence the “early bird minting” bought in 250 cases sold on the first day itself. Dropping hints on a few future prospective ventures Adam adds, “We love the idea of personalizing wine with your NFTs, for example if you own an Untamed Elephant NFT or Bored Ape you can create a wine based on it with NFT on the label. Likewise as we grow we’d like to leverage the network of Vinsent’s 100+ wineries for future drops.”
Hello Fam Grape Fam NFT Minting, Source: Hello Fam
Hello Fam Genesis Barrels, Source: Hello Fam
Falic further expands that as Gen-Z is getting easier access to this market a clear shift is being noticed with innovative solutions. “Currently the majority of our audience is the digital savvy 25 to 34-year-olds, who want to diversify their investment portfolio, or drink luxury wines and spirits, all across the globe. They are excited to have direct communication with the world’s leading luxury wine and spirits brands, as well as have the chance to purchase exclusive drops and enjoy special perks and experiences. The wine and spirit industry is growing more and more in the collectible and alternative asset markets and BlockBar is opening this opportunity for a younger generation to join in,” he adds. To encourage this growth they are aiming for more experiences and content at the BlockBar house where collaborations and growth are tangibly felt.
Within the current scenario and the need for more sustainable practices, these businesses are already picking up on that niche and will continue to propel it in due time.