Don Julio reveals cask-finished 1942 Tequilas

Diageo is auctioning five casks, with five different finishes, of its Don Julio 1942 Tequila on online platform BlockBar.

The auction marks the first time Don Julio has released its Tequila for sale by cask.

The auction went live yesterday (4 June) and will run until 20 June. Hopeful winners must register for an account on BlockBar, an online platform powered by blockchain technology.

They’ll then be able to bid on the casks of the ultra-premium añejo, each with a different finish: Bourbon, ruby Port, orange wine, Madeira and Crémant.

Each expression has a starting bid of US$35,000. The winning bidder will be able to redeem their Tequila via an NFT token on BlockBar 12 months after the auction has finished. The five casks will be kept at Don Julio’s distillery in Mexico until bottling, which will take place between December 2024 and March 2025.

Winners will own a cask – equal to 40 cases of six 750ml bottles, totalling 240 bottles. The bottles will be individually numbered and adorned with a gold-embossed icon representing its cask finish.

Speaking to The Spirits Business, Sophie Kelly, senior vice-president of global Tequila and mezcal categories at Diageo, said the release is the “continuation of us using the platform to help give people access to our rare and special spirits collections”.

“We started our relationship with BlockBar in 2022 when we started releasing whisky collectables, as we did with Johnnie Walker 48 Year Old, where we auctioned our ‘ghost’ and rare Johnnie Walker bottles,” she said. “I think they went for US$725 and sold out within 16 minutes.”

“We’ve never auctioned casks or done any finishes with 1942 or Don Julio before. It’s a cask auction of a rare spirit that is finished in five different finishes, which will not be available again.”

“Anybody in the world can go for them, which is quite different to how we used to do releases. We used to do a barrel release in whiskies and it would go to a certain owner in a certain market, and only certain people would find it. I think what blockchains have done and what BlockBar is doing – which is fantastic – is allowing us to open this stuff up in a different way to different consumers.”

A collectable spirit

Kelly said each finish was chosen to bring out 1942’s tasting notes and enhance certain parts of the flavour profile.

For starters, the orange wine cask finish brings out orange peel, tea and spices and deepens the Tequila’s amber colour, while the Bourbon double-charred cask brings a heavily toasted flavour with notes of caramelised banana, vanilla and nuts.

The Crémant brings floral vanilla, citrus, cooked agave and more of a tannic sensation. The Madeira wine cask finish offers more caramel, nuts, spice and toffee.

Kelly noted the ruby Port cask finish as her personal favourite, which features more of a toast flavour, with notes of cloves, cinnamon, dried fruits and dark chocolate.

“I think the fantastic thing about this is we’re giving access to people who wouldn’t have had access to these kinds of auctions before,” she added.

“We’re using the technology in the way it’s meant to be used. We’re verifying and have authentication of the products, which lives on beyond the initial purchase cycle. It’s exciting from a product perspective, because it’s the first. It’s exciting from a consumer perspective, because it’s a different liquid experience that has never been created before in a high-end luxury spirit. It’s a collectable.

“It’s the start of doing this year on year for 1942, so hopefully we’ll get those high-end collectors coming back for next year’s finishes – and build a community.”

After the auction, the owners of the casks will be invited to an event at the brand’s private distillery in Mexico. They can sell or gift each cask NFT, representing the equivalent of the full cask of the Tequila they purchased.

In January, Don Julio also released Alma Miel, a Tequila made with oven-roasted agave nectar.

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