Whisky experts Gordon & MacPhail announce the release of this historic liquid, set to be auctioned for a good cause in Hong Kong

Whisky connoisseurs have a chance to own a dram of history as Gordon & MacPhail launch the longest-aged single malt Scotch on the market—Generations 80-Years-Old from Glenlivet Distillery. Limited to only 250 decanters worldwide, decanter number one will be auctioned by Sotheby’s Hong Kong at the Autumn Sales on 7 October. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Scottish charity Trees for Life, which aims to rewild the Scottish Highlands by restoring the Caledonian Forest.

It’s fitting that this release should have a long-lasting legacy, as Gordon & MacPhail—experts in whisky maturation since 1895—have long believed that ‘the future is shaped by what you do today’. When John Urquhart and his son George laid down the whisky from Glenlivet Distillery in a bespoke cask on 3 February 1940, they did so knowing full well that it would be enjoyed by future generations after their lifetime.

Nurtured by four generations of the Urquhart family, Gordon & MacPhail finally bottled Cask 340 on 5 February 2020 after 80 years of maturation—longer than any other single malt in history. This release joins the family business’ Generations range—the longest-matured single malt Scotch whiskies, which together capture some of Scotland’s most iconic moments of liquid history.

This unwavering rigour and obsession to always ‘do right by the whisky’, undeterred by commercial necessity, means only the highest quality oak casks are picked for ageing, and a single malt is only released when more than 125 years of expertise determines it’s ready. Gordon & MacPhail’s whiskies are often the oldest expressions released from a particular distillery. "The fact that whisky from that time even exists today is a miracle," Gordon & MacPhail’s Director of Prestige, Stephen Rankin, tells Tatler Dining, highlighting the unbroken Urquhart family lineage that has made the preservation of Cask 340 possible.

 

On the nose, the whisky is soft yet voluptuous, opening with top notes of dried potpourri, honeysuckle and cranberries, before elegantly progressing into scents of cloves, dried fig and dark chocolate ganache. Flashes of mint, cold smoke, and old leather and parchment round out the liquid's bouquet of aromas.

Thanks to the ultra-long ageing process and the influence of the oak, the whisky imparts a supremely oily mouthfeel that helps to coat and moisturise the palate. Initial flavours are dominated by the orange marmalade indicative of a Glenlivet expression, bolstered by hints of marzipan, plump sultanas, dark caramel and chocolate truffles. This leads into a body of ripe peach nectarines punctuated by blackcurrant and cherries, before finishing with notes of licorice, mint, tobacco leaf, smoke, and an undercurrent of coconut oil and gorse, with just a hint of dryness.

The Generations 80-Years-Old from Glenlivet Distillery is presented in partnership with world-renowned Ghanaian-British architect Sir David Adjaye OBE, who is perhaps best-known for designing the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. Sought after as ‘an architect with an artist’s sensibilities and vision’, Adjaye shares Gordon & MacPhail’s view that skill and patience are integral to producing distinctive, exceptional work that’ll last generations.

To celebrate the ground-breaking release, Adjaye has designed a decanter and case set under the theme Artistry in Oak, chosen especially to symbolise the whisky’s 80 years of maturation. A jewel-like Glencairn decanter—designed to appear as though it’s a single block of crystal—holds the precious liquid. As a tribute to oak’s role in transforming spirit into a unique expression, Adjaye has also created a pavilion-like case, handmade by the family-owned Wardour Workshops, using the same wood. The intention is to heighten anticipation and create a sense of ceremony when unveiling the rare whisky—light is refracted through the opened case, calling to mind dappled light dancing through oak trees in a forest.

For decanter number one, the successful bidder will also receive the cask end and a lithograph of the original concept drawings signed by Adjaye. What’s more, the buyer will be invited to a bespoke tasting of rare and unique whiskies for four people in London, conducted by Gordon & MacPhail’s Director of Prestige, Stephen Rankin, and attended by Adjaye.

Gordon & MacPhail’s Generations 80-Years-Old decanter and oak pavilion will go on public display in early September at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre as part of Sotheby’s Hong Kong Autumn Sales preview.