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Gordon & Macphail's Generations 80YO Whisky Makes Liquid History

Gordon & MacPhail's 80-year-old Scotch from Glenlivet Distillery, the world’s oldest single-malt Scotch whisky, is being auctioned at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on October 7 for the first time ever.

September 10, 2021

It’s been sitting in an oak barrel for decades, 80 years to be exact. As war ravaged the country of Scotland in 1940, George Urquhart, member of the second generation of the Gordon & Macphail family, used the little amount of barley that was available to fill cask #340 with whisky.

Over the next 80 years, it was looked after and sampled regularly until it matured beautifully into the whisky that it is today—Generations 80YO from Glenlivet Distillery, the oldest single malt Scotch whisky in the world.

Photo: Gordon & MacPhail

A special whisky deserves a special bottle, and it was only natural for the brand to partner with internationally-acclaimed architect Sir David Adjaye OBE to create a hand-blown crystal decanter encased in an oak pavillion, the latter being an ode to the important role oak played in giving the whisky its distinctive notes as well as a celebration of sustainable materials.

“The meticulous attention of Gordon & McPhail’s to their craft was compelling. It’s rare to work on something where synergies align. For me, I created a temple, it was more about creating a place than a product,” claimed Sir David. 

Photo: Gordon & MacPhail

So what does an 80 year old whisky taste like? Our exclusive tasting left us wanting more. Generations 80YO revealed deep amber colours with magenta lights and on the nose, we detected french ginger, sweet cherries and dried figs, along with almond oil, lemon zest and traces of smoke. On the palate, we initially felt the light warmth of the spice from the oak as well as some medjool and chocolate sweetness, which turned into a prolonged finish composed of pear and traces of eucalyptus and liquorice. A truly complex malt that is unlike any other.

Photo: Gordon & MacPhail

Only 250 70cl bottles have been produced, with Decanter #1 being auctioned at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on October 7. The jewelled whisky will come with a framed casked end from the original cask as well as the original concept drawings of the bottle, signed by David Adjaye.

The remainder of the bottles will be available through the global network of distributors and all proceeds will go to the Scottish charity Trees For Life, whose mission is to plant native trees, many of them oak trees, in order to regrow the Caledonian forest.

Ewen Mackintosh, managing director at Gordon & MacPhail, comments, “It seems fitting to choose Trees For Life, as we are planting something for the future generation to see, much like George created a whisky for the future generation to enjoy.”