Sotheby’s to offer rare opportunity to acquire the complete Black Bowmore whisky collection direct from the Bowmore Distillery
Presented in a bespoke cabinet using genuine artefacts from the distillery, designed by award-winning craftsman, John Galvin
Landmark offering of five iterations representing the pinnacle of one of Scotland’s greatest distilleries
Auction scheduled for Spring 2021 in Hong Kong
LONDON & HONG KONG, 12 November 2020 – Twenty-seven years after its first release, Black Bowmore has become legendary within whisky circles, both as a hallmark of the distillery’s house style and as a highly desirable collector’s item. Next year, Sotheby’s – in partnership with Bowmore – will offer a rare opportunity to acquire the complete Black Bowmore single malt whisky collection direct from the Bowmore distillery. Five archive bottles of Black Bowmore, spanning 1993 to 2016, presented in a truly unique bespoke piece of furniture created by award-winning craftsman John Galvin, will be offered by Sotheby’s in Hong Kong in the spring of 2021. Estimated in the region of HK$4,000,000 (US$500,000 / £400,000), the Black Bowmore ‘Archive Cabinet’ will form the centrepiece of an auction of Finest & Rarest Wines and Spirits. The winning bidder will be invited to the Bowmore distillery for a tasting of Bowmore’s rarest and oldest single malts, with proceeds from the sale donated to an Islay charity, further details to be revealed in due course.
Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s Spirits Specialist, said: “Black Bowmore is one of my personal favourite whiskies and a dram I have been lucky enough to try on a number of occasions. Its value has increased exponentially over the years, which can be attributed to its undeniable quality and, now that so many bottles have been consumed, its newfound rarity. We are thrilled to partner with Bowmore for this landmark offering in the world of collectible whisky.”
Adam Bilbey, Head of Sotheby’s Wine, Asia, said: “Since the expansion of our spirits business last year, we have seen enormous growth in the global demand for whisky, particularly in Asia. Having achieved ‘first growth’ status amongst a number of single malt producers, Bowmore has become increasingly collectible. The Black Bowmore ‘archive’ represents a pinnacle in the history of the distillery, marrying five iterations of a classic whisky with the most stunning of designs in which to house them.”
David Turner, Bowmore distillery manager, said: “Black Bowmore truly is the jewel in our crown and it takes its rightful place in the distillery’s history for firmly putting Bowmore on the map as an iconic, collectable whisky. This full collection of five Black Bowmore bottlings is spectacular, made even more special by the cabinet within which it is beautifully housed. Each element of the cabinet comes from our home; from the workings of the distillery preserving time gone by. This exceptional detail not only reflects the craftsmanship inherent in Bowmore, but makes this unique masterpiece rooted in our Islay home. This means whoever buys this not only owns some of our spirit’s history, but also actual elements of the distillery’s production history.”
Black Bowmore was distilled in 1964 and the spirit filled into oak casks previously used for maturing sweet Oloroso sherry and transferred to the No. 1 vaults at Scotland’s oldest maturation warehouse. Hidden in a special location, this was the perfect environment for long maturation. Generations of skilled distillery men oversaw the casks slumbering in their secret location, whilst over the course of fifty years Master distillers perfected the liquid laying within.
Black Bowmore was initially released in 1993 as a 29 year old, with further releases of a 30 year old and 31 year old over the following two years. It appeared as part of a trilogy in 2007 (42 year old), and finally in 2016 as “the last cask” (50 year old).
Initially sold for £100, “Bowmore Black” became one of the most sought-after whiskies in the world for its tropical fruit flavour. In 2020, its status is legendary – a whisky that defies expectation and offers an experience like no other, in its alignment of concentration of colour and fragrance, intensity and subtlety, balanced smoke and fruit.
THE BOWMORE “BLACK” ARCHIVE CABINET
The one-of-a-kind handcrafted archive cabinet showcases authentic items and materials from the Bowmore distillery, connected to the legend of “black”. An original Bowmore Spirits safe was used in its construction, making the cabinet a completely one-off piece never to be replicated.
Placed inside on handblown glass pillars, each in varying heights corresponding to the age of the whiskies, the bottles are showcased to spectacular effect. The front of the pillars are highly polished, to create a vertical window to the inside of each pillar that reveals bubbles running vertically. Capturing the passage of time, the bubbles at the bottom are crystal clear to represent the newly made spirit slowly changing colour from yellow, dark red brown and finally black.
Once the exterior of the cabinet had been carved to mimic patterns in sand created by the movement of water rushing out to sea at low tide, an ancient Japanese technique was used to char its surface to resemble the inside of a cask. Featuring Scottish oak, custom cask solid bronze, and drawers constructed from the original pine wash back staves and brass whisky safe sourced from the distillery, the cabinet has been handcrafted at every stage of its production.
This unique lot will also include a one-off book which details the journey of Black Bowmore over its five releases and the creation of the cabinet.
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