Samai Rum Co-founder Antonio López de Haro (Article)

Published by The Rumlab ago about the SAMAI company

Samai Rum Co-founder Antonio López de Haro (Article) article cover image

By Emily Cruz

Samai, the first and only premium rum distillery in Cambodia, launched “Founder’s Reserve: Samai Rum Oak Barrels”, a program that consists of twelve NFTs (Non-fungible Tokens) on OpenSea, the largest NFT marketplace. With this project, investors and collectors from around the world can buy digital tokens linked to real-life Samai Rum barrels.

A token is a digital asset that assigns and proves the ownership of a unique physical or digital item – in this case, a rum barrel – which can be bought and sold through blockchain technology. As a non-fungible asset, an NFT cannot be exchanged or substituted for another with the same price since no two NFTs are equivalent. In addition, it cannot be duplicated or divided as each one is a unique property.

The barrels contain molasses-based rum distilled in a copper pot-still with an alcohol content that varies from 60-to-64% ABV. | Source: Samai Distillery

Their founders, Antonio López de Haro and Daniel Pacheco, both from Venezuela, selected twelve barrels of different types from their reserve, among which are: ex-bourbon, French oak, American oak, Pedro Ximenez Sherry, and Oloroso Sherry. They have a maximum capacity of 225 liters and contain spirits of unique character from 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Samai’s NFTs are based on the standards of the Ethereum network and its blockchain. They have an initial price of 1.2 ETH, 1.3 ETH, and 1.4 ETH, depending on the type of barrel; however, since rum matures as time passes by, the intrinsic value of the barrels increases day by day.

Each barrel has its own personality and ages differently. No barrel and no rum are equal. | Source: Samai Distillery

Once a person buys the NFT, its data is automatically stored in the blockchain through a smart contract that makes it difficult to destroy, delete or falsify it. Actually, as with cryptocurrencies, the blockchain maintains a record of who has bought or sold the NFT and who is its current owner. Hence, the ownership can be easily verified and traced.

Moreover, the token gives the holder a membership status to Samai Founder’s Reserve. The title of ownership of the real-life Samai rum barrel will be airdropped (sent separately for free) to the wallet of the Founder’s Reserve NFT holder, which can then be claimed for the real-life barrel. The NFT holder will receive many other benefits and rewards such as invitations to special events, other free airdrops, etc. Thus, there is a long-term value beyond the barrels themselves.

The shipment and/or bottling of the real-world barrels is a separate transaction. To receive the barrel, the token’s collector must communicate with the distillery in Cambodia to arrange the shipment conditions. All extra costs concerning bottling, export/import, taxes, shall be borne by the collector.

NFTs’ holders will be members of the “Samai Founder’s Reserve Club”, entitled to a barrel and other benefits. | Source: Samai Distillery

The Rum Lab had the opportunity to interview one of Samai’s co-founders, Antonio López de Haro, from which we could get some insights about this innovative program.

“We have clients around the world who do not have access to a standard barrel purchasing and investing system. Now, through the Open Sea platform, the public can access all the specifications and information of our barrels (…). Open Sea allows you to buy, sell and even resell, which is more convenient and easier than offline operations, in which you have to negotiate with each client.”

The initiative of turning barrels into digital assets is part of their plan to expand their business, so they will be able to meet their growing demand and create new expressions. So far, they have been operating on a small scale. Today, they are ready to go further. They are currently launching a new investment round to raise funds to build a new distillery.

“For the last few years, customers from different countries have expressed their interest in buying our barrels (…). The distillery we have today is too small for us, we are at full capacity and that is giving us a very limited growth opportunity. So, our top priority is to invest in restructuring our distillery in Cambodia to dramatically increase our production volume.”

Likewise, the issue that the company can tokenize their barrels brings them an opportunity to update the way of doing business. “Although NFTs is something new for us, we see it as an innovative exercise, a way to adapt to new e-commerce platforms and to reinvent ourselves and use unconventional systems. We are learning a lot from this, as we get involved (…). We consider it a duty to do so, to continue developing our company.”

Thus, Founder’s Reserve: Samai Rum Oak Barrels is part of their main goal to continue bringing Samai to the world rum industry. Although, it is also an opportunity for everyone from over the world to participate as investors in their vision. In the future, they plan to develop similar projects that not only involve barrels but also bottles, single casks, special limited editions, and so on.

Samai’s Founders, Daniel Pacheco (Left) and Antonio López de Haro (Right). | Source: Samai Distillery

Though the alcoholic beverage industry has been affected during the pandemic, brands like Samai have learned how to adapt to the situation by developing these kinds of projects that allow them to explore new business platforms and reach international markets.

Located in the heart of Phnom Penh, Samai Distillery has seven years of producing handcrafted premium rums that reflect the uniqueness of the Cambodian terroir and pay tribute to spirits-making traditions. The brand has progressively expanded to different markets by exporting its rums to countries such as France, Singapore, the UK, Spain, the Czech Republic, and South Korea. They are also in negotiations to export to the U.S., Switzerland, among many others.

The barrels contain rums with exquisite tasting notes in which caramel, vanilla, fruits, and nuts dominate the palate. | Source: Samai Distillery

Samai Rums have also received several awards in different international competitions, including Double Gold Medals, which has positioned it as the best spirit of its category in the world. Some of these are the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, the London International Spirits Challenge, the Singapore World Spirits Competition, and the Madrid International Rum Conference.

To learn more about Samai Distillery and its expressions you can visit www.samaidistillery.com or follow them on their social media accounts https://www.instagram.com/samaidistillery/https://twitter.com/SamaiDistillery, and https://www.facebook.com/SamaiDistillery.


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