Bowmore sells Onyx at the inaugural Distillers one of one auction

One-off Bowmore whisky art piece sells for record £400,000

Bowmore Onyx being sold at the inaugural Distillers one of one auction for a record price of £400,000
Bowmore Onyx being sold at the inaugural Distillers one of one auction for a record price of £400,000

An exceptionally rare, one-off 51-year-old single malt, Bowmore Onyx, has been sold at the inaugural Distillers one of one auction for a record price of £400,000/US$532,340* in Edinburgh, cementing the Islay Distillery’s commitment to charitable giving and Bowmore’s desirability in the secondary market.

A truly striking encapsulation of time, with over half a century of craftsmanship, quality, and character embedded in its creation and story, Bowmore Onyx is a hand-blown black glass vessel containing 1.4 liters of ultra-rare whisky. Inspired by the incredible terroir of our island home, specifically the distinctive black rock, or bogha mor, from which it is believed the name Bowmore is derived, this rare one-off masterpiece was highly sought after, with bidders keen to add it to their collection.

Matured in an American Oak refill barrel, which was filled on 17 February 1970, this single malt was the first 51-year-old ever released by the distillery. The auction was the only opportunity for a bid for this Bowmore Onyx. Nurtured in the legendary Bowmore’s best Vaults, this whisky spent its long life resting quietly in the cool, dark, damp cellars below sea level, oblivious to the waves thrashing the vault’s sea-facing wall, slowly evolving its distinctive character.

This single malt is very much defined and shaped by over 50 years in oak, however, the influence of Islay remains a constant. Burnished gold in color, the exquisitely fresh and fruity aromas thrill the nose with the sweetness of stewed white flesh peaches balanced with the punchy notes of menthol and eucalyptus. Then signature peat smoke sneaks in alongside woody notes of polished cedarwood and burnt caramel. The tantalizing taste of sweet orchard fruit and spices excite the palate as tobacco, earthy walnuts and pecan nuts lead to a mouth warming, long-lasting finish.

The creation of the one-off glass structure celebrates Islay, but more than that, it is itself a masterpiece in glass design, being the first structure of this size and style ever to house Bowmore. Hand blown using highly skilled and creative techniques from the expert team at Glasstorm, who previously crafted the exclusive Bowmore 1957, which sold at Sotheby’s for £363,000, and the stunning Black Bowmore DB5 1964, this beautiful art piece takes direct inspiration from the striking rock formations of Islay.

Bowmore to empower young people in Scotland

Commenting on the project, Francois Bazini, managing director, Scotch, Gin & Irish at Beam Suntory, said, “This is another incredible milestone in the evolution of Bowmore and cements, its position has been a hugely creative, desirable, and committed brand. But vitally, to be part of this auction and achieve this record price for Onyx means we can continue our philanthropic endeavors to benefit Scotland’s young people. This is a great day for Bowmore and also for the establishment of a new legacy.”

Proceeds from the Distillers one of one auction will benefit The Youth Action Fund, which has been created by The Distillers’ charity focusing on supporting disadvantaged young people in Scotland, transforming their life chances, and empowering them to create positive change in their lives and communities. Working with charity partners who offer education and training programs, the fund will provide young people with opportunities to develop life skills, discover their values and be work-ready.

Earlier this year, the Islay distillery unveiled the Bowmore legacy project to support Bowmore young people’s employability, training, and housing needs, enabling a range of vital outcomes from affordable and supported housing to key employment skills for young people with barriers to employment. The key goal of the Bowmore legacy is to futureproof the island’s distilling industry for tomorrow by investing in young people’s needs today.  

*Final price includes buyer’s premium of 25% of the hammer price (£320,000/US$425,870)



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