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Wave Financial to Tokenize $20M Worth of Bourbon for New Whiskey Fund

Digital asset manager Wave Financial is tokenizing a whole year's production of Kentucky bourbon so global investors can gain exposure to the growing U.S. whiskey market.

Wave announced Wednesday that it had finalized an agreement with the Kentucky-based Wilderness Trail Distillery to tokenize between 10,000 and 20,000 barrels of bourbon whiskey, worth up to $20 million, that will be made publicly available through a specialized digital asset fund.

Known as the Wave Kentucky Whiskey 2020 Digital Fund, investors will be able to purchase asset-backed tokens linked to an inventory of whiskey barreled this year. Stored and maintained by the Wilderness Trail Distillery, Wave estimates that the fund will represent as many as 4 million bottles of bourbon.

The U.S. whiskey market has experienced something of a renaissance, becoming the most exported U.S. spirit in 2018. Over the past 10 years, domestic production capacity has repeatedly expanded year-on-year in order to meet demand.

Wave president and manager of the new whiskey fund, Benjamin Tsai, said in an announcement that the fund gave investors a "rare opportunity to access this unique asset class traditionally unavailable due to high upfront costs and purchase minimums, low liquidity, scarcity of production capacity, and technical know-how."

Unlike many other consumable goods, which perish and lose value over time, whiskey does the opposite: the older the whiskey, the more valuable it becomes.

This is in down to the natural aging process. Once distilled, the spirit is stored in a barrel so ingredients continue to mix and the water either evaporates or soaks into the wooden barrel, improving the flavor and therefore making it more valuable.

Specifically with the bourbon Wave selected, markup can increase from $1,000 per barrel when first distilled, to as much as $4,000 five years down the line.

By tokenizing it, Wave says investors can gain exposure to bourbon's value appreciation and can also share some of the proceeds from when the whiskey is sold wholesale to merchants, three years after the whiskey is first distilled and tokens issued to investors.

Tsai told CoinDesk that a fund administrator and auditor will calculate the value of the barrels on a quarterly basis, which will be presented a regular inventory report and will provide investors will a benchmark price for their tokens.

Users will be able to trade their tokens at whatever price they wish. Wave is also in discussions with some security token exchanges to develop an official secondary market infrastructure to facilitate better trading in the whiskey-backed tokens.

The new tokens have created something of a buzz among blockchain protocols, some representatives have approached Wave asking whether they would consider launching on their platform. "We're keeping our eyes open on the protocols we could use for this," Tsai said, adding that the company was using Vertalo, a Tezos-partnered developer house, to create the token.

Although an official date has not yet been fixed yet, a Wave spokesperson said the sale was expected to take place sometime this year and would be open to accredited investors from all around the world. Token issuance will take place a year after the sale, to comply with the SEC's one-year lockup requirement.

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