Why are people buying whisky that was buried in a bog for 2 years?

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While NFT-themed spirits drops are still relatively novel, they’re definitely trending. And no question about it, they’re getting weirder. Perhaps noting the success of selling fart symphonies and war nymphs NFTs, the latest spirits NFT that has everyone talking entails a whisky buried for two years in a peat bog. (Admit it, you’re curious!)

What Are NFTs?

For the uninitiated, NFTs [non-fungible tokens] are digital assets that represent real-world items like wine, spirits, art, and videos. Essentially, NFTs are designed to be fraud-proof digital certificates of ownership and authenticity, held on the blockchain. Created in 2014, NFTs became a household acronym around 2020, but 70% of Americans can’t truly define them.

Alcohol-themed NFTs have abounded in recent months, and for details on some of the latest, check our coverage on NFTs more generally here and on Robert Mondavi’s embrace of the movement here.

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Producers in the alcohol beverage space gravitate to NFTs for one-off drops not just for the novelty factor, but because many believe they are a hedge against fraud. Fake wine and whisky bottles abound (fraud costs the wine industry alone an estimated $3 billion annually), and some producers and collectors believe that NFTs provide an ironclad guarantee of provenance.

Ardbeg NFT

In most cases, producers choose to create NFT drops for highly collectible and distinct lines. One of the most recent examples of this is Ardbeg, who partnered with BlockBar to release the Ardbeg Fon Fhòid (Scots Gaelic for “under the turf”). The Scottish brand released 456 bottles that it has dubbed its “most experimental whisky to date.” These bottles were indeed aged in a manner that could accurately be described as experimental: buried in a peat bog on the remote island of Islay in Scotland for two years.

“I think it’s safe to say we’ve unearthed a truly special Ardbeg here,” said Ardbeg’s director of whisky creation, Dr. Bill Lumsden. “Ardbeg Fon Fhòid is earthy and mossy with one hell of a herbal nose! Good luck to all those hoping to secure some of Ardbeg’s own buried treasure – I hope you land a bottle!”

Each bottle has a corresponding NFT minted on the Ethereum blockchain, verifying authenticity and ownership. The release went live on April 19th, for 1 ETH (approx. £2,600).

Interview With To Dov Falic, CEO & Co-Founder BlockBar

We reached out to Dov Falic, CEO and co-founder of BlockBar, a platform designed to deliver NFTs from luxury liquor brands to curious consumers, to learn more about what collectors and brands like Ardbeg can expect from this and similar NFT drops. Read on for Falic’s thoughts.

NFTs are still so new to so many of us. From your experience, what are consumers seeking when they invest in spirit NFTs?

Brands and consumers face various obstacles in the industry. Some of which include access, communication, storage and authenticity. Our goal was to find a way for NFTs to solve a real problem in the wine and spirits industry. Utilizing blockchain technologies, BlockBar.com enables consumers to connect directly with brands and address many of the obstacles in the industry. Consumers are asking for exclusive product you can’t find anywhere else and then some utilities like first access to next drops etc.

What have been some of your most successful launches? 

We’ve had successful and very different launches with all of our brand owners so far including Glenfiddich, Dictador, Hennessy, Penfolds, PATRON, The Dalmore, and Buffalo Trace. Prices of drops have ranged from $400 to $226,000 for the Hennessy 8 release which was bought by a crypto community club called the Angry Pitbull Club. We also hosted our first-ever auction with Buffalo Trace Distillery and sold five six-litre OFC Vintage Bourbon Whiskeys for $280,000, with proceeds donated to charities.

What do we need to know about the Ardbeg drop?

We sold over 300 bottles in less than 24 hours of the drop and anticipate this Ardbeg release selling out, as the first NFT for the brand. Ardbeg has a very dedicated committee who are known for its collecting – and this Ardbeg Fon Fhòid is the first of its kind to be distilled underground. After two years and 10 months submerged in a peat field just outside of Ardbeg’s distillery, they unearthed this truly unique whisky.

Broadly speaking, where do you see the “win” or opportunity in NFTs for brands and consumers? 

For consumers, BlockBar is addressing major issues in the industry. Access to exclusive bottles, storage, insurance and most importantly authenticity, eliminating any concern for counterfeits. For brands, BlockBar is offering a direct gateway to communicate with their consumers.

What is your ideal customer? And do you have a read on who your audience is comprised of now?

Our vision is to be the world’s largest luxury wines and spirits marketplace so we attract a global audience. Right now, we see strong site traffic from U.S., Asia, U.K. and key pockets in Europe. BlockBar.com makes the collecting and gifting of luxury wines and spirits accessible to all demographics. We’re democratizing the traditional wines and spirits industry and allowing everyone, anywhere in the world to participate, as well as introducing a younger demographic to the purchasing of wines and spirits. Our audience consumer set right now is skewed to 25-to-34-year-olds.

You offer the ability to pay by credit card or Ethereum — do most people prefer dollars or crypto?

One of the benefits of accepting both credit card and ETH is the freedom it gives bottle owners to make the payment as comfortably as they wish. Implementing a method for payment via credit card as well as ETH is something we worked hard to achieve, and we’re proud to offer the variety to our community.

Where do you see the NFT and spirits market going next? Any dream brands you’d love to partner with or innovative launches you’d like to see?

We see this space only growing and expanding in the future. More and more luxury wine and spirits brands are looking for onboarding into web3.0. BlockBar has many exciting releases and collaborations in the calendar, as we expand our roster of brand owners. The best way to keep up to date with all our latest drops is by joining our community at BlockBar.com and following our digital channels – Twitter @BlockBarNFT, Instagram @blockbar.eth and Discord.

This article originally appeared on AlcoholProfessor.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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Pairing whiskey with food is a thing. Here’s how to do it

 

If the only thing you’ve ever considered pairing with whiskey is an ice sphere, sweet vermouth or a bowl of mixed nuts, you’ve been missing out. Global whisk(e)y, whether it be delicate Speyside, sweet bourbon, spicy rye, unabashedly peaty Islay, or another category, touts such a depth and breadth of nuances for all kinds of savory fare. Add to that the fact that many expressions are finished in casks previously used to mature wine, and the synergy is unmistakable. Go ahead: make the switch at the table from grape to grain.

 

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To kick things off at the start of a meal, Ramsey Musk suggests a round of Highballs, which the beverage director at Guerrilla Tacos in Los Angeles deems “a perfect way to not only lighten the whiskey, bring the flavors to life, and wake up the palate.” Follow that with a Whiskey Sour or Crusta for lighter courses that appear earlier on, and flights for the entrees, which give diners the chance to compare different spirits from a distiller’s portfolio, and show just how they play off, say, pasta or roasted chicken. “It ends up being a bit more fun for them to parse through their own palate and seeing what they pick up vs. their companion,” he adds.

If you are new to whiskey (or new to pairing it with food), it’s helpful to set out both small pours and whiskey cocktails to pair with food, according to Allison Strunk, general manager of King + Rye, a Southern cuisine-inspired and whiskey-focused restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia. At your next gathering, have everyone bring their favorite whiskey, and set out small tasting glasses to encourage experimentation.

 

AlcoholProfessor.com

 

Similar to the strategy of pairing wine, Strunk says to consider a whiskey’s style, rather than what category it belongs to; in general, sweeter whiskeys go well with spicy fare, lighter ones with seafood and full-bodied expression with rich, well-flavored dishes. Take meat, for example. “A smooth bourbon aged in a cabernet cask like Jefferson’s Reserve Pritchard Hill Cabernet Cask Finish pairs beautifully with lean grilled beef, [while] Scotch with more peat would need dishes with bold smokiness such as dry-aged beef or duck.”

 

AlcoholProfessor.com

 

Rye whiskey cuts through fatty cuts of beef like ribeye, and Strunk really loves it with smoked meats. “The assertive spice that comes from the rye stands up to low and slow smoked brisket and pork,” she believes. If you choose to slather on a barbecue sauce or coat the cut with a spice rub, select something slightly sweeter, like a high-rye Bourbon, which will complement without overpowering. Looking for a high rye bourbon? Check out NY International 2021 Gold WinnerRedemption Barrel Proof High Rye Bourbon.

 

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If a dish has citrus notes, it’ll cozy up to the smoky saltiness of peated Scotch, according to Steven Lewis, head bartender at Bar Belly in New York; try it with chicken piccata or lemon pepper pork chops. Well-seasoned dishes like Senegalese chicken yassa or General Tso’s chicken easily meld with a peated single malt from Islay or Isle of Skye, like the tropical fruit nose and dry, red chili finish of Talisker Storm or The Classic Laddie Scotch by Bruichladdich .

 

AlcoholProfessor.com

 

The saline note of seaside Scotch also works alongside brinier varieties of raw oysters. Talisker Whisky offered a virtual whisky and oyster pairing, sharing three ways to enjoy the beverage with bivalves: eschewing mignonette or hot sauce for a few drops of whisky dribbled directly on top of the oyster, using the empty shell as a shot glass for a half-ounce whisky chaser, or washing down the oyster with a more ample neat pour. However, when shucking milder varieties like Kumamoto that have a creamy body and melon- or cucumber-like finish, Lewis recommends a single malt from Speyside, perhaps Aberlour 12 Year these whiskies tend to have a more delicate character and a clean finish, rather than the smokiness or iodine tinge that comes from peated offerings.

 

Since oysters and stout are also a classic pairing, it makes sense that they would also partner with a stout cask-finished whiskey, Musk says, citing Westward Stout Cask American Single Malt Whiskey, for one. “The salinity of the oyster and the chocolate notes that come through in the whiskey are delightful,” he says, adding while the expression is heavier in body and flavor it’s not oily on the palate, so the clean ocean notes of the seafood shine through.

 

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Since American single malts as well as their Scotch counterparts are often finished in barrels that previously held dry or fortified wine, they have a natural affinity for cheese. Musk likes the autumn fruit and rich nutty notes in Westward Pinot Noir Cask; Deanston 9 Year Old Bordeaux Red Wine Cask Finished and Bunnahabhain Moine Bordeaux Red Wine Cask Matured are two great options from across the pond. But soft, mild cheeses like burrata and mozzarella are better served by something less showy on the palate, perhaps an easy-drinking Irish whiskey like Green Spot or Teeling Single Grain. Strunk says Bourbon is a winner with mild cheddar, complementing rather than competing with the cheese.

 

AlcoholProfessor.com

 

Speaking of Bourbon, one savory pairing that might come as an initial surprise are dishes containing miso, but it actually makes quite a bit of sense, Musk says. “Miso makes a great caramel, so it is a no-brainer that Maker’s Mark is a great pairing with its vanilla and caramel forward flavors”; try it with miso-glazed black cod or salmon.

 

hile Lewis agrees with the philosophy of echoing the flavors of a dram and a dish, he also cautions against being too matchy-matchy. “You want a chord, not a single note.” And as with wine, while “it’s natural to think mostly about the main component of the plate, keep in mind there will always be secondary and tertiary flavors,” all of which can affect the overall taste. Cheese boards have jam and honey; meat may be salted, marinated, or dry-aged and served with sauces, herbs, or accents; oysters served on that platter of crushed ice will also arrive with lemon, hot sauce, mignonette, or horseradish. Pairings that might not have been as obvious can work wonderfully with the ingredients already meant to enhance the dish,” he says. “Think of the drink as an additional ingredient to what you’re cooking.”

 

This article originally appeared on AlcoholProfessor.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

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Featured Image Credit: MarianVejcik / iStock.

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