Marrying Tradition and Rarity

Aston Martin Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman and Aston Martin historian Steve Waddingham discuss the iconic cars that inspired Designed by Aston Martin. Interview courtesy of Bowmore and Aston Martin.

“If I were to describe Aston Martin as a drink, it would be a fine aged whisky,” says Aston Martin Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman. This neat comparison is certainly borne out by how well both marques have stood the test of age – Aston Martin is in its 108th year while Bowmore, Islay’s oldest licensed distillery, traces back to 1779. What a fascinating set of pairings this trio of limited-edition single malts presents. The 10 Years Old, 15 Years Old and 18 Years Old have each been adorned with a striking new look as a tribute to Aston Martin’s history and three of its most iconic race cars: the LM10, the Atom and the DB Mark III. “It’s all about capturing timelessness and bringing the world of Aston Martin into a fine bottle of whisky,” says Reichman. “If you look at the rarity and exclusivity of Bowmore and compare it to Aston Martin, we’re very similar. “The amount we produce is small in comparison to our competitors. The tradition and rarity that both Aston Martin and Bowmore represent – and the exemplary attention to detail – are effortlessly captured within a bottle.” Reichman says that he and the Aston Martin team were inspired not only by Bowmore’s history but also its tradition for handcrafting single malt whiskies inspired by time and place. It’s this world view and attention to the moment that speak to the Aston Martin ethos the most, he comments. So how did this collaboration, underpinned by a shared ideal of the Aston Martin philosophy, take shape. The aim was to create something that was “unique and, like our cars, pushed the boundaries – to taste the years of hard work, innovation in design and the longevity of our respective brands,” replies Reichman. It is Bowmore’s dedication to traditional techniques that makes its whiskies exceptional. Ageing, naturally, plays a critical role in the whisky-making process, and the brand’s maturation houses are the oldest in the world.

Age-old production methods shape what is often described as the fruity and playful character of Bowmore single malts. Every whisky is matured in oak casks, previously used for bourbon, sherry or claret. These, over time, help develop the rich and mellow flavours Bowmore is synonymous with.

“Crafting a whisky is like crafting a car. The flavours, scents and memories you draw from each note is like building a car from scratch” – Marek Reichman

Bowmore’s first Designed by Aston Martin creation comes courtesy of the 10 Years Old, coupled with the Aston Martin LM10. Described as “bold, confident and daring”, the single malt is infused with spice from Spanish oak casks, which in turn nods to the technical prowess and cutting-edge technology of its namesake car. The elegant Bowmore 15 Years Old single malt dons an impressive motif of the Aston Martin Atom, paying homage to the craftsmanship, artistic flair, style and passion of this truly game-changing car. Finally, the might, roar and sheer power of the Aston Martin DB Mk III comes to life in a rare and deeply complex 18 Years Old whisky that celebrates the attention to detail and exceptional performance of both brands. “Crafting a whisky is like crafting a car,” says Reichman. “It’s unbelievably time-consuming and complex, just like the notes you find in a well-matured whisky. The flavours, scents and memories you draw from each note is like building a car from scratch – and this fun and inspiring process is the crux of this collaboration.” When it came to choosing the cars, the usual suspects were a no-no: James Bond was too obvious so out of the question. Instead, it was more or less instantly decided that Aston Martin would highlight its lesser-known sports cars – the real game-changers – and bring them to life in this collaboration. The LM10 debuted at Le Mans as a factory team car in 1932, says Aston Martin historian Steve Waddingham. It was sold after the races without being altered at all – one of the few team cars to escape such a fate. Later, after a snap decision, it was decided that the LM10 would be entered into the 1933 Le Mans race fest. It came second. Unusually for a pre-war Aston Martin, says Waddingham, “it has a continuous history and is one of the most developed and lightened pre-war Martins out there.”

The Aston Martin DB Mark III: Beautifully proportioned, yet as multi-faceted as the complex Bowmore 18 Year Old it is paired with, its style is rich in 1950s glamour; a well-designed trendsetter

Part of the model’s immense charm is that it was designed to be ‘functional’ rather than a pretty race car. The LM10 has since become one of the brand’s best-known and best-performing cars in terms of track record. With this functional design, says Waddingham, it almost accidentally looked “just right” – helped by a rakish and low-slung body and its “low rad” cooling radiator at the front. The LM10 remains one of the most important racing cars ever made. These team cars were statement pieces that positioned Aston Martin as one of the biggest risk takers of the day. Back in the early 1930s, the company was still in its infancy, and the majority of its cash flow went into entering the races. “Pouring all its cash into one car was a bold and risky thing for Aston Martin to do,” says Waddingham. “As such, it deserves to be remembered and celebrated, in this case in bottle form. As a relatively unknown Aston Martin, the LM10 is a nod to the ballsiness of the brand – one that punches above its weight in fields from manufacturing to setting the world stage.” Every time the LM10 went out onto the track, it was all about living for the moment. The drivers of that period knew this risk, which is why historians find it such an exciting and defining chapter in Aston Martin’s history. And despite it being modified over the years, it’s one of the few Aston Martins that has been able to retain its originality. “This is a car that rocks up with all sorts of scars,” says Waddingham. “It’s a car that bears them proudly – and you can still see signs of how the car was continuously developed throughout its racing career. It is purposeful and has a real presence.” As for the Atom, choosing it for the partnership with Bowmore was a “no brainer”, according to Waddingham. It illustrates the technology that saw the entire company through World War II, and it was the car that former owner David Brown was so impressed by that he decided to buy the company outright. Created as a concept car in 1940, the Atom was a vehicle so ground-breaking that it instantly captured the imagination of the public – much like Bond and Aston Martin, Waddingham adds.

An Aston Martin Atom on show at the Salon Prive luxury and supercar event in London, England (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Back then, Aston Martin had just switched ownership and, as such, it had been decided that it was time for a big change. The company had the upper hand over other car makers of the day in that it manufactured its cars right next to an airfield. It was this aviatic neighbour that would ultimately influence the design of the Atom and the models that followed it. “Plane technology showed Aston Martin that it could create a very lightweight sports car and, as a result, change the car-making industry,” says Waddingham. “It was conceived to be an advanced, streamlined and functional beast, designed to show the world what the future of cars could look like. At the same time, it was a functional test bed and by no means the finished styling of any new model.” As World War II hit and all production was put on hold, the Atom was tasked with picking up essentials while out on service duty. This meant numerous tweaks and modifications throughout the war years. “Every scratch, every wound and every death-defying mark makes it one of the most important cars in the Aston Martin portfolio,” the company says. It was also ahead of its time – and still holds great appeal to 21st-century buyers. And the Mark III? For today’s social-media-crazed generation, it’s arguably the best-looking car in this collaboration, Aston Martin believes. It was, Waddingham points out, the first car from Aston Martin that “oozed wow factor”. Beautifully proportioned, yet as multi-faceted as the complex Bowmore 18 Years Old it is paired with, its style is rich in 1950s glamour; a well-designed trendsetter. As soon as you eye its radiator grille – again, specifically designed for an ever-evolving market – you know it’s an Aston Martin, Waddingham notes. “Like the Bowmore 18 Year Old, it’s an Aston Martin that was instantly iconic,” he adds. In this marriage of cars and whisky, Aston Martin’s 108 years of boldness, beauty and complexity chime harmoniously with the three characterful and meticulously matured Bowmore single malts. It’s the perfect fit, says Reichman: “The longevity, incredible heritage and craftsmanship – and how Bowmore protects them – really align with how we do things at Aston Martin.”

Spotlight Series - August 2021

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