On a recent episode of “Last Week Tonight,” host John Oliver described cryptocurrencies as “everything you don’t understand about money combined with everything you don’t understand about computers.” And for people like me, who thought Ethereum Blockchain was an X-Wing pilot in The Last Jedi, it’s an embarrassingly true description. It doesn’t get any easier to understand, when companies scramble to insert themselves in the cryptocurrency market, like the Long Island Iced Tea Company rebranding itself as Long Blockchain Corp. or Burger King Russia trying to serve up its own WhopperCoin.
One of the newest additions to the cryptocurrency landscape is CaskCoin, launched by Ricky Christie, the head of North of Scotland Distilling Company. As Oliver explained, startups have started to sell coins as a way to raise money as an alternative to issuing stock – and that’s pretty much what CaskCoin is doing. Each token represents a stake in CaskCoin’s Scotch whisky “Warehouse,” a £40M ($56M) portfolio that the company says is filled with some of the “finest and most sought after” aged single-malts in the world. (It lists Macallan, Bowmore, and The Glenlivet as examples of some of the distilleries whose casks are stacked in that real-life warehouse).
“Good investments often come in the form of establishing ownership of rare products and holding onto those products as the supply continues to drop, or the quality continues to improve,” CaskCoin writes on its website. “Combine both of these factors and you are entering the world of whisky investing.”
According to The Herald, CaskCoin hopes to raise £40M in its initial coin offering (ICO) later this month, and would-be investors must sink a minimum of £30,000 ($42,400) into the startup. (And you might want to ask yourself how much rare whisky you could buy for your own “warehouse” with $42 grand). Cryptocurrency website BitsOnline says that CaskCoin has yet to specify how much of a share each token represents, and how those virtual coins are bound to “the real-world asset” sitting in CaskCoin’s warehouse.
“Scotch is the most recognized and popular spirit in the world and has proven to be a robust and tangible investment that has consistently outperformed others in the marketplace,” Christie told the Herald. “CaskCoin is the first time that our industry has been opened to a global investor base.”
CaskCoin might be the first token connected to aged single-malt Scotch, but crowdfunding isn’t new in the booze world. Perhaps the best known – and most successful – example is Scottish craft brewer BrewDog’s Equity For Punks, whose shareholders have raised almost £55M ($77.8M) during five rounds of funding.
And, unsurprisingly, there have been a few other cryptocurrencies associated with tangible foods too. Bananacoin, which is tied to the value of one kilogram of bananas, launched earlier this year, and every 500 pesos worth of Agrocoin is connected to one square meter of habanero chili pepper production.
So yeah, to update what John Oliver said, now you can combine everything you don’t know about computers, money and valuable whiskies. Good luck!