If you’re going to drop $75,000 on a bottle of whiskey, it’s best if the liquid inside is sublime. And the bottle itself? It should raise the bar for the experience. A must have craftsmanship that turns it into a conversation piece and a collector’s item that you can proudly display on a shelf in your wet bar or bar cart. The rhino expression we’re referring to is called the ARC-52, and it’s a collaboration between Bomore and Aston Martin, which comes in a crystal spaceship-like beaker.
Bomore, a Scotch distillery located on the famous Isle of Islay ground whiskey, is no stranger to the concept of expensive, well-aged single barley. But this new collaboration with luxury carmaker Aston Martin, part of a long-standing partnership, is absolutely stunning in terms of design and flavour.
ARC-52 is a 52-year-old malt whiskey. It was distilled in 1968, the same year humans first orbited the moon. (This historical context is just a fun fact; it doesn’t have much relevance in the whiskey world, but it lends itself well to storytelling.)
There are only 100 bottles of ARC-52 available, which is one of the oldest versions of Bowmore to date, and it works at 42.3% ABV. Whiskey is a marriage of equal proportions: half of the whiskey is aged from bourbon ex-American oak, and the other half from European oak.
I was lucky enough to sample a sample at a recent event at The Glass House in New Canaan, CT.
Now, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Old whiskey doesn’t mean good whiskey. On the contrary, despite the exorbitant price that a barrel requires, sometimes decades in a barrel can change the character of the whiskey until it’s cognac or rum for all you know. But this half-century-old drama from Bomore is a deliciously liquid hangover.
It’s full of tropical fruit, as is often the case with Scotch this age, but that’s not all there is to this nipple. The nose starts with green apples, pineapples, and lots of pears. This last note is one I usually associate with whiskey Glenvidic, but it’s clear here, too. It opens the palate with a jam of mango, cinnamon, and raspberry, followed by a bit of tannic spice and some cranberry and vanilla that fades at the end.
This certainly isn’t an everyday sleight, but at $75,000, it’s not really intended.
word in design
The design of the bottle is striking, albeit somewhat funky, and is meant to represent the aesthetic that defines Aston Martin luxury cars. The hand blown glass beaker rests on two points in the shape of a rounded triangle.
There is a metal cap on top that you need a magnetic key to open, and once this is off you can pour the whiskey – although it seems a bit impractical in that regard, or at least I’d be nervous about pouring it.
“This whiskey is the pinnacle of our partnership,” Cathal Lognan, Head of Global Partnerships at Aston Martin, said in the recent media announcement. “This 52-year-old whiskey is exceptional, and our challenge was to create an exceptional vessel like a liquid. We really wanted to innovate, push the boundaries of what a bottle is. We wanted to create something magical and amazing, so we spent years developing the magnetic system. We wanted it to be More than just a bottle, it’s a sculpture that holds whiskey in perfect condition.”
The truth is that no whiskey is perfect, despite the hype, price, and unusual bowl it may come with. This is a whiskey designed specifically for high-cylinder collectors, and that’s who’s going to buy it — and let’s be honest, you probably never drink it.
But if you find yourself with some cash burning a hole in your pocket and it’s time to hunt down one of these bottles, go ahead and open it. Or buy two – one for drinking and one for your group.
The ARC-52 launches this month in the New York City and Los Angeles markets.
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