Gordon & MacPhail ‘s 80-year-old whisky honours the company’s history and leaves a legacy for future generations
On 3 February, 1940, George and John Urquhart laid down cask 340. The cask, which contained Glenlivet Distillery’s single-malt whisky, was set aside for 80 years to be enjoyed by future generations. Only now is it finally ready to be shared with the world.
Gordon & MacPhail, originally established in 1895 by James Gordon and John Alexander MacPhail, fell under the control of John Urquhart and his family in 1915. The family-owned business is now 126 years old and has been handed down through four generations of the Urquhart Family.
The release of the 80-year-old whisky represents the family’s long-standing dedication to crafting quality spirits, honouring the vision of George and John Urquhart. “That 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,” says Stephen Rankin, a member of the fourth generation of the Urquhart family.
The whisky has been bottled in a stunning decanter and will be presented in a unique oak case. Both are creations by award-winning architect Sir David Adjaye OBE, who was chosen by Gordon & MacPhail for sharing “the company’s values of artistry, legacy and craftsmanship”.
The decanter features a timeless design made using glass and crystal—a worthy vessel for the precious whisky. Meticulously crafted by hand, each decanter is unique and was produced by Glencairn Crystal Studio, a family business based in Scotland that has mastered the art of crafting ultra-premium decanters over a history of four decades. The decanter is enclosed in an exquisite oak case, which references the oak cask which cradled the whisky as it matured.
Decanter #1 of this precious whisky—of which there will be just 250 decanters—will be auctioned at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on 7 October with an estimate of HK$800,000-1,500,000. The winning bidder will not only receive the decanter in its accompanying oak case along with two tumblers, but will also enjoy a rare whisky tasting experience for four in London conducted by Gordon & MacPhail’s director of prestige Stephen Rankin and attended by Sir David Adjaye OBE, and will additionally take home the cask head of cask 340 and Adjaye’s original, signed and framed concept drawings for the decanter and oak case.
Finally, as part of Gordon & MacPhail’s commitment to leaving a legacy for future generations, proceeds of the auction will be donated to Trees for Life, a charity dedicated to rewilding the Scottish Highlands.
Public preview showcases will take place from 3 September at Sotheby’s on New Bond Street in London, and on the Upper East Side in New York, as well as in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre as part of the 2021 Hong Kong Autumn Sales Series Preview. For more information, visit Sotheby’s.