September Scotch: Aston Martin + Bowmore ARC-52

A rare 52-year-old single malt scotch whisky in an eye-catching vessel designed by the luxury automaker

Anchored in heritage but defined by a quest for innovation, the ongoing collaboration between historic Islay single malt scotch brand Bowmore and English luxury sports car manufacturer Aston Martin now culminates with Bowmore’s Aston ARC-52. Bowmore’s master blender, Ron Welsh, developed the ultra-rare 52-year-old single malt scotch whisky, and Aston Martin’s team designed the futuristic, sculptural vessel that houses it. As the name implies, the bottle is arc-shaped, with two points of contact to the surface beneath—a form that allows it to appear to float. To chronicle this limited edition release for our September Scotch series, we eased into an Aston Martin DBX, made our way to New Canaan’s architectural marvel The Glass House and sampled the refined liquid ourselves.

By looking at the atypical bottle in person, the scope of expectation for the sipping experience immediately changes: a vessel so spectacular must hold a liquid of the same caliber. James Neil, an international ambassador for Bowmore’s parent company, Beam Suntory, tells us, “The mission [of the partnership] was to have these two iconic companies work together to share their distinct visions. They’ve perfected the art of beauty using the golden ratio in the design and production of their cars—and they were able to execute that in the design of this bottle.”

100 bottles will be available globally, separated into two annual releases of 50 bottles each—to make sure that quality and craftsmanship do not diminish. Cathal Loughnane, Head of Aston Martin Partnerships, says, “This is the culmination of the past three years. It started with our DB5 bottle and then the Masters’ Selection, which is a whisky that we co-blended with Ron Welsh, but this is very much the zenith of our partnership. This 52-year-old whisky is exceptional. It was our challenge to create a vessel as exceptional.” Their design team spent years on the glass form and on the locking mechanism within the metal lid, which is released by a magnetic key—because the Aston Martin team did not want any buttons or handles to disturb the purity of the form.

Though the bottle is extraordinary, the price tag—$75,000—is due not only to its design or the scarcity of the global release, but because of the liquid itself. “It is a perfect balance,” Neil says. “It’s equal parts ex-bourbon American oak and European oak sherry. It is 52 years old, making it one of the oldest liquids that Bowmore has produced and these barrels were sitting in the oldest whisky maturation warehouse in all of Scotland.”

Its age statement may be a point of attraction but the flavor profile resulting from such a lengthy maturation is unexpected and enjoyable. Herbal notes waft toward the nose with the scent of apples and pears and a bit of vanilla. On the palate, the 42.3% single malt tastes lightly of peat smoke, with more pronounced creamy, nutty and even citric notes. Its finish returns to the herbal characteristics found on the nose. Altogether, it’s luscious and lengthy and quite aligned with the liquid’s deep golden color.

Neil concludes with an observation that the two luxury heritage brands have had parallel success. Four years before the ARC-52 was put into casks, both Bowmore and Aston Martin had milestone ’60s moments. “That was 1964,” he says, “an iconic year for the Bowmore brand. We had a new boiler brought into the distillery. We produced some of our best liquid ever, which became known as Bowmore Black, one of the most collected single malt scotch whiskies on Islay. In 1964, Aston Martin introduced the DB5 to the world through James Bond’s Goldfinger.” Now, through such an alluring, exclusive collaboration, their shared values and vision have woven their timelessness together.

Images by David Graver