Baxus has pioneered digital authentication and storage technologies to create a new online marketplace for collectible whiskies and wines
When Baxus co-founder Todd Wiesel was a young man looking for work, he found himself taking a one-off gig at a whisky convention, doing the fetching and carrying for 75 vendors. Back then, Todd knew little about whisky, but it sparked a fascination that he started exploring in depth after being handed 30 bottles of prestige whisky as remuneration. A collection was born, and a passion ignited. Todd went on to become a professional whisky trader, internationally brokering rare bottles and casks, before putting his deep knowledge and passion into Baxus, established in 2021 to bring more accessibility to whisky and wine collecting and trading.
“I came to realise that you had to be an insider to trade in wine and spirits,” says Todd. “You needed to know who to talk to, you needed to get access to them, and there was no central database to compare prices.” According to Todd, it was “an inefficient market because buyers are located in certain areas, but gatekeepers such as auction houses and distributors aren’t always in those same places.” And as rare whiskies have skyrocketed in value, currently outpacing all other alternative tangible assets, Todd points to a rise in scams with, “transactions increasingly happening on social media or webchat pages, and with them, a serious uptick in fraud – people filling old bottles with cheaper whisky and resealing them, for example. These issues of transparency, provenance and trust were damaging the market and preventing new consumers from entering.”
Baxus enables collectors, from budding to seasoned, to securely ship fine wine and spirits to secure facilities for authentication and storage under ideal conditions. It currently has vaults in New York and Kentucky and Todd plans to establish others in other key locales including Scotland, France and Ireland. “We are creating the same sort of efficiency as the traditional stock market,” he explains. “A buyer in Hong Kong can buy a bottle in New York and receive proof of purchase with a full 360-degree hi-res scan of their bottle. They could then choose to hold, sell on the exchange, or safely remove it for consumption.”
The full market transparency that Todd speaks to requires trust, which explains why Baxus has invested deeply in authentication. The platform has developed an industry-leading database of bottles and labels. Renowned experts then conduct head to tail visual inspection and apply machine-learning software to check the actual bottles intended to be listed on Baxus to ensure provenance. The authentication process is further augmented by brands, vineyards, producers and distillers who know the reputational damage that fraudulent bottles can have.
“We store all data on a blockchain that establishes a permanent record viewable by all and that helps deter market manipulation,” explains Todd. “Beyond embracing this transparency, brands are establishing partnerships with us that give them direct access to their clients, opening a new and important avenue of communication that has traditionally been difficult to tap due to regulatory and logistical hurdles.”
“I’ve been lucky,” Todd reflects. “I turned a fascination into a hobby, a passion and a career. Now I want to help people around the world easily embark upon that same joyous journey as collectors, connoisseurs, investors, and wherever else Baxus may take them.”