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

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

The 80-year-old single malt Scotch whisky from Glenlivet Distillery has been presented in partnership with Sir David Adjaye OBE

News | 16 Jun 2021

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In partnership with Sir David Adjaye OBE, family-owned independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail (G&M) is set to release the oldest known single malt Scotch whisky ever sold.

This bottling of Glenlivet 80 Years Old will be part of G&M's Generations series, which has previously presented some of the longest-matured single malt Scotch whiskies ever to be made available to the public and currently includes whiskies from Mortlach Distillery at 70 and 75 Years Old, in addition to a younger Glenlivet at 70 Years Old.

This new release comes hot on the heels of The Macallan Red Collection 78 Years Old, which was announced by that distillery in October 2020 and briefly took the mantle of 'world's oldest single malt' from G&M's Generations Mortlach 75 Years Old. These two bottlings are the latest competitors in the Scotch whisky industry's painstakingly slow 'race' to create a 100-year-old whisky.

Head of Cask 340

For over 125 years and across four generations of family ownership, the company has matched its own casks with new spirit from over 100 Scottish distilleries. In this case, new make sourced from Glenlivet Distillery was filled into a single sherry butt on 3 February 1940 by George Urquhart and his father, John—members of the second and first generations of the family that still owns the company to this day.

Referred to by renowned whisky writer Charlie MacLean as ‘the father of single malt’, George Urquhart—or 'Mr George', as he was known to his friends—is well known for his firm belief that each whisky should be left to mature for as long as it takes to create the optimum balance of spirit and cask characteristics, the point when a whisky reaches its 'peak' of quality. This ethos remains a key part of the company's modus operandi to this day as part of its 'The Wood Makes the Whisky' philosophy. The time required for Cask #340 to reach its peak was 80 years—longer than any other Scotch whisky in history—and on 5 February 2020 the decision was taken to finally bottle the cask’s contents, yielding a total of 250 decanters at 44.9% ABV.

Sir David Adjaye OBE & Stephen Rankin, Director of Prestige at Gordon & MacPhail

“That this whisky—the oldest single malt Scotch ever bottled—remains so full of vibrant flavour... is testimony to knowledge handed down over successive generations of my family,” said Stephen Rankin, director of prestige at G&M and member of the fourth generation of the owning family.

To celebrate John and George Urquhart’s vision, G&M has collaborated with internationally acclaimed architect and designer Sir David Adjaye OBE to create a unique decanter and oak case. Described as ‘an architect with an artist’s sensibilities and vision’, the team at G&M feel that Adjaye was a natural choice as a creative partner, as he "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.

Sir David Adjaye’s decanter and case will be revealed in September 2021, with decanter number #1 auctioned by Sotheby’s in early October 2021. To continue the theme of legacy, auction proceeds, minus costs, will be donated to award-winning Scottish charity Trees for Life, which aims 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 Mackintosh.

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