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Stephen Rankin, Director of Prestige, Gordon & MacPhail with cask 340 - Generations 80YO from Glenlivet Distillery

Gordon & MacPhail introduces the world’s oldest single malt Scotch whisky

By LLM Reporters on 5th September 2021

Whisky creator Gordon and MacPhail is set to release what is thought to be the world’s oldest single malt Scotch whisky this month – an 80-Year-Old from Glenlivet Distillery – in partnership with Sir David Adjaye OBE.

On 3rd February 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 and MacPhail cask to be enjoyed by future generations.

To celebrate John and George Urquhart’s vision, Gordon and MacPhail has collaborated with internationally acclaimed architect and designer, Sir David Adjaye OBE, to create a unique decanter and oak case to house perhaps 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.

Head of cask 340, nurtured by Gordon & MacPhail for eight decades
Head of cask 340, nurtured by Gordon and MacPhail for eight decades

“When collaborating, I am looking for like-minded partners in terms of their craft, beliefs and traditions. I loved Gordon and 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,” expresses Adjaye.

Referred to by renowned whisky writer 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.

On 5th February 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.

Cask 340 from Gordon & MacPhail, which cradled the world's oldest single malt Scotch whisky for 80 years
Cask 340 from Gordon and MacPhail, which cradled the world’s oldest single malt Scotch whisky for 80 years

“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,” explains Stephen Rankin, director of Prestige at Gordon and MacPhail Whiskies, and member of the fourth generation of the family that owns the company.

For over 125 years, Gordon and 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 over 100 Scottish distilleries. It is this unique depth and breadth of experience that enables Gordon and MacPhail to combine oak, spirit and time to create iconic whiskies found nowhere else in the world.

“Maturing a single malt Scotch over eight decades is an art,” says Ewen Mackintosh, managing director at Gordon and 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 and MacPhail share a commitment to invest in the future. We both see the significance of creating something exceptional; leaving a legacy for future generations.”

Sir David Adjaye OBE - ‘an architect with an artist’s vision’
Sir David Adjaye OBE – ‘an architect with an artist’s vision’

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 2021, with decanter #1 auctioned by Sotheby’s in early October 2021. To continue the legacy theme, auction proceeds, minus costs, will be donated to award-winning Scottish charity Trees for Life whose mission is to rewild the Caledonian Forest.

“It’s fitting that this release will provide a relevant, valuable and long-lasting legacy with direct benefits for many,” adds Mackintosh.

The Generations range from Gordon and MacPhail has previously presented some of the longest matured single malt Scotch whisky ever to be bottled. Its reputation will be further enhanced this month when the Gordon and MacPhail Generations 80YO from Glenlivet Distillery will finally be unveiled.

You can register your interest via: gordonandmacphail.com.