Another day, another incredibly-priced whisky sales record — though this one used a bit of modern technological help to get there. On Friday, a cask of Macallan 1991 Scotch sold at auction, setting a new record for a whisky cask with a price tag of $2.33 million. But more than just a cask of coveted Scotch, the sale also included a specially-commissioned NFT, potentially boosting the value.
The Macallan has a history of record-breaking sales achievements. Bottles of Macallan 1926 60-Year-Old Scotch have continued to leapfrog each other to claim the title of the most expensive bottle of whisky ever sold, with the current record, set in 2019, standing at about $1.9 million. This newly record-setting cask of 1991 Scotch isn't as old in age or aging, but the buyer is certainly getting more bang for their buck: The cask is believed to contain about 600 bottles' worth of 51.1-percent ABV Scotch for an average per-bottle price of about $3,880.
Speaking of leapfrogging, this latest Macallan record comes at the expense of an old one: a similar Macallan 1991 cask set the record for priciest cask back in August by selling for $572,978 — though that cask only contained about 200 bottles' worth of booze.
Something else that makes the new record-breaker unique is the way it was sold: Metacask bills itself as "the world's first NFT marketplace for whisky cask investments," and so for this digital sale, London-based brokerage VCL Vintners chose to auction off the cask with a non-fungible token courtesy of NFT artist Trevor Jones. Instead of the usual cask photo, Jones was commissioned to create an abstract representation. The somewhat smudgy and loosely barrel-shaped result was entitled The Angel's Share.
"The collaboration with Trevor and Metacask to create an abstract NFT artwork — which is based on an oil painting – gives the new owner a 21st-century way to connect with their whisky," VCL Vintners Director Stuart Thom stated. (For the record, the oil painting was not included as part of the sale, only the NFT.) "Instead of a photo which is for verification purposes more than anything, the way Trevor is using new technologies to engage fresh audiences with traditional art forms fits exactly what VCL Vintners and Metacask are wanting to achieve for the whisky investment industry. Our goal is to bring wonderfully complex and old things to as many new people as possible, and to enhance their understanding and access to it through technology."
In an era where both whisky and NFTs can sell for millions, how much did the NFT affect the price? It's impossible to know for sure unless one is sold without the other, but a potentially interesting comparison can be found with the aforementioned Macallan 1926 60-Year-Old. The first record-setting bottles that sold all contained specially-commissioned label artwork by one of two artists: Peter Blake or Valerio Adami. However, the current record-holder contains no artwork at all, only a standard "Fine and Rare" label. Consider it a reminder that you can't get tipsy by staring at a piece of artwork.