Whisky creator Gordon & MacPhail will release the world’s oldest single malt Scotch whisky this September – an 80-year-old from Glenlivet Distillery – in partnership with Sir David Adjaye OBE.
On February 3 1940 in a quiet corner in the north of Scotland, George Urquhart and his father, John, had the extraordinary foresight and vision to lay down spirit from Glenlivet Distillery in a bespoke Gordon & MacPhail cask to be enjoyed by future generations.
Referred to by renowned whisky writer and MBE Charlie MacLean as “the father of single malt”, George Urquhart passionately believed that each whisky should be left to mature until the cask and spirit had combined to create the desired quality, and it was ready to be shared.
The time for Cask 340 was to be 80 years – longer than any other Scotch whisky in history.
Out-turn finally bottled
On February 5 2020, leaning on the unique skill and experience acquired over more than 125 years, the decision was taken to finally bottle the cask’s precious out-turn, yielding a total of 250 decanters.
“This whisky – the oldest single malt Scotch ever bottled – remains so full of vibrant flavour with a strength of 44.9% ABV, is testimony to knowledge handed down over successive generations of my family,” explained Stephen Rankin, director of prestige at Gordon & MacPhail Whiskies, and member of the fourth generation of the family that owns the Elgin company.
For more than 125 years, Gordon & MacPhail has been driven by a simple mission: to create single malt Scotch whisky of exceptional quality.
Through four generations of family ownership, the company has matched its own casks with spirit from more than 100 Scottish distilleries.
And it is this unique depth and breadth of experience that enables Gordon & MacPhail to combine oak, spirit and time to create iconic whiskies found nowhere else in the world.
To celebrate John and George Urquhart’s vision, the company has collaborated with internationally acclaimed architect and designer Sir David Adjaye OBE to create a unique decanter and oak case to house the world’s most precious whisky to date.
Described as “an architect with an artist’s sensibilities and vision”, Adjaye was a natural choice as a creative partner; a man who shares the company’s values of artistry, legacy, and craftsmanship.
“When collaborating, I am looking for like-minded partners in terms of their craft, beliefs and traditions.
“I loved Gordon & MacPhail’s rigour and obsession with their products and their craft – a romantic commitment that enables one to do exceptional things. Our partnership felt so organic,” said Adjaye.
“Maturing a single malt Scotch over eight decades is an art,” added Ewen Mackintosh, managing director at Gordon & MacPhail, “similar in many ways to architecture where you are creating something that needs to stand the test of time. Neither can be rushed.
“Both Sir David and Gordon & MacPhail share a commitment to invest in the future. We both see the significance of creating something exceptional; leaving a legacy for future generations.”
In the same way that a 50th anniversary is commemorated by gold, 80 years is traditionally symbolised by oak – a pleasing reflection of this whisky, cradled in oak for eight decades.
Sir David Adjaye’s stunning decanter and case will be revealed in September, with decanter number one auctioned by Sotheby’s in early October.
To continue the legacy theme, auction proceeds, minus costs, will be donated to award-winning Scottish charity Trees for Life whose mission is to re-wild the Caledonian Forest.
“It’s fitting that this release will provide a relevant, valuable and long-lasting legacy with direct benefits for many,” added Ewen.
The Generations range from Gordon & MacPhail has previously presented some of the longest matured single malt Scotch whisky ever to be bottled.
Its reputation will be further enhanced this September when the Gordon & MacPhail Generations 80 Year Old from Glenlivet Distillery will finally be unveiled.