Originally laid down in 1940 by Gordon and MacPhail, this 80-year old single malt Scotch whiskey goes on auction at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong this October
September 9, 2021: Sotheby’s London recently unveiled an 80-year-old Scotch from the Glenlivet Distillery, which was originally laid down in 1940. Whiskey creators Gordon and MacPhail unveiled the whiskey which was matured in an oak cask. It is the oldest single malt Scotch whiskey ever bottled.
Gordon & MacPhail, founded in 1895, commissioned the internationally acclaimed architect and designer, Sir David Adjaye OBE to design a unique decanter and oak case based on the theme ‘Artistry in Oak’ to house this most precious of whiskies - which makes for a fitting tribute to this landmark moment for the industry, the longest-matured ‘expression’ ever to be released featuring the spirit from a Scottish distillery.
On October 7, Sotheby’s Hong Kong will offer Decanter #1 of the Gordon & MacPhail Generations 80-years-old release with an estimate of US$100,000 to US$200,000. Included in this special lot is a singular whiskey tasting experience for four in London, conducted by Stephen Rankin, Gordon & MacPhail’s Director of Prestige, and would be attended by Sir David Adjaye, in addition to the framed original cask head of Cask 340, which was the cask that cradled the spirit for eight decades, and a one-of-one signed lithograph of Sir David’s original, concept drawings.
Gordon & MacPhail is supporting a local charity, Trees for Life, whose mission is to rewind the Caledonian forest, as a part of their release of 250 decanters. The proceeds from the sale of Decanter #1 would be donated to resource the nursery of Tree of Life, which grows 100,000 rare and native trees from seeds each year, including oaks.
It was George Urquhart, from the second generation of the family to own the company, who had the vision and foresight to lay down a spirit from the Glenlivet Distillery in a bespoke Gordon & MacPhail oak cask to be enjoyed after his lifetime by future generations.
Mr. Urquhart was of the passionate belief that each cask needed to be left to reach its full potential, and only when the whiskey was judged as ready that it should be shared. The optimum time for Cask 340 was to be 80 years, longer than any other Scotch whiskey in history. In 1940, the Ministry of Food cut malt whiskey distilling by one third to ration barley for the war effort, making the production of Glenlivet fall by two thirds - adding an extra layer of rarity to this release. It was on February 5, 2020 that the decision to bottle the cask’s bounty was taken, which had been nurtured for over eight decades by four generations of the Urquhart family.
Oak is integral to the whiskey-making process, and is also the traditional symbol for celebrating an 80-year anniversary, making for a fitting choice of material for the case. Quoting Sir David Adjaye’s words, his design “pays tribute to the role oak plays in transforming liquid to an elixir with almost magical properties” and brings the narrative full circle, with the light refracted through the pavilion-like enclosure when the casing is opened, recreating sunlight as it shines through oak trees within a natural forest setting.