First launched in 2022, the ARC-52 combines one of the oldest Bowmore releases to date – a 42.3% ABV whisky matured in ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks – with an architectural glass vessel inspired by Aston Martin's design principles of stability and refinement. Just 100 decanters were made available globally with a recommended price of £65,000 each.
One of the decanters has been created as a unique art piece: the ARC-52 Mokume Edition. It takes its name from the Japanese metalworking technique 'mokume-gane', which produces a mixed-metal laminate with layered patters, and has been adorned with a carbon fibre top crafted to mirror the texture achieved through mokume production. The decanter's producers say its finish imitates the layered rocks on the shores of Loch Indaal, where Bowmore is based, and the charred interior of the cask in which the 52-year-old whisky was aged.
The ARC-52 Mokume Edition will be auctioned by Sotheby's in London on 26 May 2023, with an estimate of £140,000–200,000 (US$175,000–275,000). The winning bidder will also have an opportunity to travel to the Bowmore Distillery on Islay and experience the Aston Martin DBX Bowmore Edition, the car maker's first luxury SUV. Proceeds from the auction will be donated to a dedicated long-term fund to support Islay's residents and distilling industry.
Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s head of whisky and spirits for North America and EMEA, said: “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. Bowmore consistently push 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, executive vice president and chief creative officer at Aston Martin, said: "As makers of bespoke and beautiful objects, proportion, shape, and form, along with careful selection of colours and materials, are incredibly important to us at 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. 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 ARC-52 Mokume Edition is one of the final projects to be undertaken by Bowmore's veteran master blender Ron Welsh, who officially retired from the distillery at the end of 2022.
Welsh said: "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 fulfil our ambition to ‘give back’ to our home place through The Bowmore Legacy, by offering collectors and Bowmore lovers something truly special and desirable. As one of my last projects for Bowmore, this one is exceptionally close to my heart and is the perfect climax to an incredibly rewarding and exciting career."