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A Unique Bowmore ARC-52 Mokume Edition Heads to Auction

The special edition decanter is expected to sell for up to $275,000 when it goes under the hammer.

By Alex Martin

Bowmore and Aston Martin have joined forces again to produce a unique version of their 2022 collaboration, ARC-52. The Mokume Edition is both a one-off decanter and a one-off whisky, with the liquid inside made especially for this release.

The original ARC-52 made waves when it was released last year with Aston Martin reinventing the wheel when it comes to bottle design. Its strange shape was compared to a UFO but was actually inspired by the way air moves over an Aston Martin. There were just 100 decanters, which were sold for $75,000 apiece.

The Mokume Edition will make significantly more than that when the auction comes to a close at Sotheby’s London on May 26. The price has already hit $175,000 in the presale and is expected to go as high as $275,000 when live bidding starts.

What accounts for the extra cost? We went down to Sotheby’s to find out.

[See also: The Oldest Scotch Whisky Ever Released]

The Mokume Edition decanter

The ARC-52 Mokume Edition is on display at Sotheby’s ahead of the auction on May 26 / ©Sotheby’s

The ARC-52 Mokume Edition decanter has the same shape and design as the original. What sets it apart is the lid, which has been created using a Japanese metalworking technique called Mokume-Gane.

It is a process used to make the finest Samurai swords, where intricate patterns are layered to give the illusion of depth. The lid is a mix of high-grade metals and carbon fiber, but it actually has the appearance of charred wood grain, as you’d find on the inside of a whisky cask.

It is also said to look like the black rocks in the bay of Loch Indaal on the island of Islay, home to Bowmore Distillery.

Marek Reichman, chief creative officer of Aston Martin, said: “As makers of bespoke and beautiful objects, proportion, shape, form, colors and materials are incredibly important to Aston Martin. 

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“And sometimes, nature can be the best of all designers. We imagined walking those picturesque shores [of Loch Indaal], at magic light, and discovering this wonderous treasure, shaped over eons of time by the elements, suddenly appearing at your feet.”

The Mokume Edition whisky

The ARC-52 contains a unique whisky that differs to the original release / ©Sotheby’s

The original ARC-52 contained a whisky from two cask styles – one refill European oak and one refill American oak – both aged for at least 52 years and bottled at 42.3%.

The Mokume Edition contains almost exactly the same liquid, but the now-retired master blender Ron Welsh added an extra touch to ensure it was unique.

Welsh found a 1962 cask that had been aged for 55 years to add a bit more body to the flavor profile. It also took the ABV up to 43.5%. It’s a small alteration that, more than anything, helps set it apart from the original 100 decanters.

The whisky still tastes the same as the original ARC-52: deeply sweet, charred pineapple on the nose and a whisp of menthol on the palate.

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.

“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.”

The winning bidder will also be invited to visit the Bowmore Distillery on Islay and experience the custom-made Aston Martin Bowmore DBX.

The Bowmore ARC-52 Mokume Edition is currently on display at Sotheby’s London. The auction closes Friday, May 26, at 02.01 pm BST / 09.01 am ET / 06.01 am PT. You can place your bids here.

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