Two vaunted British brands, Aston Martin and Bowmore Whisky, unite once again this spring to make a unique bottle for one of the distillery’s oldest whiskies ever.
The Aston Martin-designed decanter will contain a 52-year-old whisky, a marriage of some of the oldest Bowmore vintages from the 1960s, created by Master Blender Ron Welsh.
And this unique Bowmore ARC-52 Mokume Edition will go up for auction by Sotheby’s in London on May 26th with an estimate upwards of £220,000, or $275,000.
Sotheby’s officials also noted that the winning bidder will receive an experience at Bowmore Distillery and on Islay, experiencing the limited-edition Aston Martin DBX Bowmore Edition, the brand’s first luxury SUV.
In all, the proceeds from the auction will be donated to a long-term, dedicated fund to support the people of Islay across a range of initiatives with the key goal of supporting Islay’s distilling industry.
Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s head of whisky and spirits for North America and EMEA, said the concept for this one-of-one edition takes its name from the Japanese metalworking technique Mokume-Gane, which produces a mixed-metal laminate with distinctive layered patterns.
He noted that the carbon fiber top of the decanter was created using a process that mirrors the Mokume texture and mimics a natural aesthetic, much like wood grain or layered natural rock.
The creators of the unique expression noted that the finished look represents both the black rocks in the bay of Loch Indaal, home to the Bowmore Distillery, and also the inside of the charred cask where the 52-year-old whisky was aged.
“Bowmore’s Mokume encapsulates all the hallmarks of a collector’s perfect whisky … a collaborative venture with Aston Martin to create an exceptional vessel containing a unique liquid of exceptional quality, never to be bottled again,” Fowle said, in the prepared statement. “Bowmore consistently pushes boundaries with their design concepts and their whiskies are truly world beating. Partnering with them once again to offer this one-off opportunity to whisky enthusiasts represents an exciting moment for Sotheby’s and the market for rare spirits.”
Marek Reichman, with Aston Martin, said that as makers of bespoke objects, proportion, shape, and form, along with careful selection of colors and materials, are of great importance to Aston Martin.
“And sometimes, nature can be the best of all designers. So, for inspiration of the decanter for this ingenious and special one-off ARC-52 Mokume Edition, we turned to the black rocks in the bay of Loch Indaal, home to the Bowmore Distillery,” he explained. “We imagined walking those picturesque shores, at magic light, and discovering this wondrous treasure, shaped over eons of time by the elements, suddenly appearing at your feet. We think the vessel containing this magnificent whiskey reflects the rarity and distinctiveness of the precious spirit found inside.”
The design for the Bowmore ARC-52 decanter merges natural and man-made contours, incorporating 3D printing and hand-crafted clay modeling.
Ron Welsh, Bowmore master blender, said that the very concept of ARC is itself spectacular in both form and contents. “But this one-off creation adds even greater depth, intrigue, and inspiration to the story of ARC. By creating this unique Mokume edition, we can also fulfill our ambition to ‘give back’ to our home place through The Bowmore Legacy, by offering collectors and Bowmore lovers something truly special and desirable.”
He said that as one of his last projects for Bowmore, “this one is exceptionally close to my heart and is the perfect climax to an incredibly rewarding and exciting career.”
In February of 2021, Sotheby’s sold a bottle of Black Bowmore Aston Martin DB5 for $118,750. Launched by Bowmore in 2020, of the 27 bottles produced, 25 were released, with the two remaining bottles headed for Bowmore Distillery’s archive.
Fowle noted that Sotheby’s has set records for both Bowmore and Aston Martin in recent years, such as in December of 2021, when a bottle of Bowmore Onyx 51 Year Old 1970 sold for £400,000, $532,340.
And in 2017, an Aston Martin DB1/1 sold at RM Sotheby’s Californian auction for $22.5 million, making it the most valuable British car ever sold at auction.
The Islay distiller offered tasting notes for this one-of-one Bowmore ARC-52 Mokume Edition:
- CASK: European oak Sherry seasoned and American oak Hogshead.
- AGE: 52 Years Old, 1968.
- ABV: 43.5%.
- COLOR: Deep burnished gold.
- AROMA: Fresh and fruity notes with a nod to the rich sweetness of creme brulé, sees the emergence aromas of apricots, green apples, orange zest and guava. Herbal notes of fresh menthol, eucalyptus and liquorice root provide a contrasting yet balanced character.
- PALATE: Honey sweet, fruity, and citric characters from flavors of green apple, apricot and tangerine are merged with the nutty notes of macadamia and walnuts. Oaky notes unite with light peat.
- FINISH: Long and mouth drying with a touch of marine minerality.