Fife-based business The Whisky Barrel, managed by brothers Alastair and Chris Brown, has initially released a 30-year-old Glen Moray single malt, priced at £350 and limited to 152 numbered bottles.
Each bottle carries a unique QR code linked to its Digital Provenance Certificate or Non-Fungible Token (NFT), which uses blockchain technology to to securely transmit product information on a public ledger. This, the company said, will help collectors to alleviate the risk of buying a fake bottle.
The project was developed in association with Aberdeen-based tech start-up CD Corp, which mints the NFTs on the Solana (SOL) blockchain platform, which The Whisky Barrel says it chose for its carbon neutral status and low energy consumption.
‘Using blockchain technology offers our customers a continuously updated, secure record of ownership for each individual bottle, adding a layer of provenance that’s unrivalled in the Scotch whisky industry,’ said Alastair Brown.
The Digital Provenance Certificate provides proof of ownership and information on the provenance of each bottle. The first 30 NFTs also feature a graphic representation of the bottle, which The Whisky Barrel hopes will make them more collectable.
The owners of the first bottles will be granted VIP membership of The Whisky Barrel Scotch Club, hosted by Solsea, Solana’s open NFT marketplace. Anyone wishing to buy the whisky must join The Whisky Barrel Scotch Club on Solsea or visit the company’s website.
The Glen Moray release is the first from The Whisky Barrel’s 15th Anniversary Portfolio Series. Distilled in 1991, it was matured in a first-fill ex-palo cortado sherry hogshead cask before being bottled at its cask strength of 54.9% abv without the addition of colour or chill filtration.
The series will culminate in the bottling of a 50-year-old single cask whisky at the end of the year.
While the series is claimed to be the first of its kind to use NFTs to guarantee provenance and authenticity, the first Scotch whisky distillery to use blockchain technology in a similar fashion is believed to have been Ardnamurchan in 2017.
The remote West Highland distillery, owned by independent bottler Adelphi, printed QR codes linked to online data about its 2017 AD spirit release, telling the ‘story’ of the spirit, from the field where the barley was harvested to the dates of production.
More recently, Scotch whiskies including Glenfiddich, Dalmore and Royal Salute have used blockchain technology to sell luxury releases via NFTs to consumers all over the world. The tokens can also include invitations to private tastings, distillery visits and luxury experiences.
‘Blockchain technology is not just for the big companies, it’s for small companies like ours,’ said Alastair Brown. ‘It is the future. Applying a certified digital history to a physical bottle of premium Scotch whisky is the ultimate provenance for our barley-to-bottle approach.’