Generations 2012


Gordon & MacPhail is delighted to announce the launch of the latest edition to the Generations range.

Generations Mortlach 75 Years Old by Gordon & MacPhail was officially launched at the Royal Opera House, London on 2 September 2015.

It is the latest edition to the Generations series, which encapsulates Gordon & MacPhail’s approach to single malts. This approach is built on decades of knowledge and expertise handed down from generation to generation of the Urquhart family.

We invite you to find out more about Scotland’s liquid history.


Gordon & MacPhail

The year 1895 marks the beginning of the Gordon & MacPhail legacy when founding partners, James Gordon and John Alexander MacPhail, established the business in South Street, Elgin.

Within a year of the firm’s establishment, John Urquhart joined the company.


John Urquhart

John Urquhart was made a senior partner in 1915, he soon began to develop the firm’s whisky broking business, and to specialise in single malt whiskies, bottling under licence for several famous distilleries, including The Glenlivet.

It was a short step from this to selecting and filling his own casks with new-make spirit, leaving them to mature at the distillery – often for much longer than was customary at that time - and then blending the whiskies or bottling them as single malts.


George Urquhart

Under the expert tutorage of his father, George Urquhart joined Gordon & MacPhail in 1933. Like his father and James Gordon before him, George began at the very bottom: cleaning, sweeping and stacking were only some of the daily chores tasked to the young George. It was not until later and the 1960s that he took the unprecedented step of launching a range of single malts from different distilleries under the brand name ‘Connoisseur’s Choice’ and offered the range for sale in the rapidly expanding Italian, French, American and Dutch markets. This move laid the foundations for the significant interest in malt whisky in these countries that remains to this day.

By this time the family firm held the largest range of bottled malt whiskies in the world.  Most makes were unavailable elsewhere, since very few distillery owners bottled their own malts as singles - indeed, it is no overstatement to say that Gordon & MacPhail single-handedly kept the amber lamp of aged malt whisky burning during the post-war decades!

Upon John Urquhart’s death in 1956, George Urquhart succeeded his father as Senior Partner.


The Cask

On the 3rd of February 1940, to the instruction of John Urquhart, 15 First Fill Sherry Butts were filled at Glenlivet and left to mature in warehouse number 6 at the distillery.

Over the years some of the casks were used and on the 10th January 1980, the remaining 8 casks, including cask 339, were moved to Gordon & MacPhail’s own bonded warehouse in Elgin.

The Year

This was possibly the darkest year in the entire history of Great Britain.

War had been declared against Nazi Germany the previous September, but so far it had been a ‘phoney war’: this would change rapidly in the months to come. In January, the Blitzkreig was unleashed upon Finland and Norway, which were defeated after stiff resistance; Denmark, Belgium and The Netherlands surrendered; Paris was bombed, and in June Marshall Pétain surrendered and France was occupied. The same month Italy declared war on Great Britain, 13,000 British and French troops surrendered to Field Marshall Rommel at St. Valery and 300,000 Allied troops were evacuated from Dunkirk.

Britain stood alone against the Axis powers, and Winston Churchill (who had become Prime Minister in May) told the nation that “the Battle of France is now over; the Battle of Britain is about to begin”.

And begin it did, in July, with continuous bombing raids by the Luftwaffe, bravely checked by ‘The Few’ RAF fighter pilots: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”. During September and October - the months of the Blitz – London was bombed on fifty-seven consecutive nights; in November, Coventry was utterly destroyed and in December 500 German bombers devastated Sheffield.

The Nazi tactic was to achieve aerial superiority in order to invade or force an armistice. Churchill had made it clear that this would never happen:

“We shall not flag or fail. We shall fight on the beaches…on the landing grounds…in the fields and the streets… We shall never surrender”.

By the end of the year it was clear that the Luftwaffe would not achieve its goal: the first, crucial, turning point in the war had been reached.


Second World War

With excellent stocks of whisky, Gordon & MacPhail survived the ravages of the Second World War. In fact, they released large quantities of their stocks of mature whiskies for shipment to the United States in order to earn dollars towards the war effort. And they remained one of the few to fill casks during those bleak years, when distilling was eventually reduced to a standstill.

Owing to the prudent stewardship of John and George Urquhart, the firm’s future was secured during these turbulent times. Indeed their foresight in filling large amounts of whisky in the late 1930s and early 1940s meant the company had healthy stocks when peace was finally declared in 1945.


Ian Urquhart

Just as his father had introduced him to the firm, so George brought in his own children. The oldest, Ian, joined in 1967, after having been trained in the wine and spirit trade in London and France. He became Managing Director at Gordon & MacPhail in 1990 and retired in August 2007.


David Urquhart

In 1972, Ian’s brother David Urquhart joined Gordon & MacPhail.

A graduate of business in Aberdeen, David began his career with Gordon & MacPhail in 1972 and worked in various areas of the company before becoming UK Sales Director and in 2007 David became Joint Managing Director of the firm along with his brother Michael. David retired in October 2012


The year 1981 sees two more family members joining Gordon & MacPhail with the joint arrival of both Michael Urquhart and Rosemary Rankin, John Urquhart’s grandson and granddaughter.

Michael Urquhart

A Chartered Accountant, Michael began his time with Gordon & MacPhail as Finance Director and over the next 30 years he took on the additional responsibilities of Export Director and Whisky Supply.  In 2007 Michael became Joint Managing Director of the Company along with his brother David. Michael became Managing Director of Gordon & MacPhail in October 2012

Rosemary Rankin

Rosemary joined after raising her family. She became a Company Director in 1990.


100 years

The year 1995 Gordon & MacPhail celebrated 100 years since it’s founding in 1895.  Since its humble beginnings as a family grocers, tea, wine and spirit merchant, Gordon & MacPhail had grown to become a diverse business with a number of different interests including the retailing, wholesaling, exporting and bottling of single malt Scotch whisky.



It was always the ambition of John Urquart and subsequent generations of the Urquhart family that one day Gordon & MacPhail would own and manage a distillery of its own.  This dream became a reality in 1993 when the company purchased Benromach Distillery in Forres. 

Drawing upon generations of expertise in the whisky industry, Benromach was carefully re-equipped ready to recommence operation before HRH Prince Charles officially reopened it in 1998.  


With the dawn of the new millennium Gordon & MacPhail welcomed a fourth generation.

Stephen Rankin

In 2000, John Urquhart’s great grandson, Stephen Rankin joined Gordon & MacPhail, becoming UK Sales Director in 2010.

Neil Urquhart

Neil Urquhart Joined in 2002 and was appointed Director of Logistics and Facilities in 2010.


Stuart Urquhart

In 2008, John Urquhart’s great grandson, Stuart Urquhart joined Gordon & MacPhail

Richard Urquhart

He was followed in 2009 by his brother Richard Urquhart.


The Launch

On 11th March 2010, Gordon & MacPhail made history by launching Generations Mortlach 70 Years Old, the world’s oldest bottled Single Malt Scotch Whisky. 

Unveiled at an exclusive event at Edinburgh Castle, the release sparked international media interest, and all large decanters were either sold or reserved within two weeks by collectors and whisky enthusiasts worldwide.

Tasting Note

Mortlach 70 Years Old 46.1% (1938)

Appearance: The colour of sun-bleached polished mahogany.

Aroma: A mellow nose, at once waxy and fruity; candlewax to the fore initially, which becomes snuffed candle (a thread of smoke), with Maraschino cherries in Madeira cake behind, and after a while an orangey citric note - fresh and juicy, becoming apricot jam. Flaked almonds and whin flowers, becoming light coconut oil.

Taste: Surprisingly lively tasted straight. A smooth, waxy mouthfeel; a sweetish start becoming moderately dry, but not overly-tannic. Dried fig and tobacco notes, and an intriguing light smokiness. A long finish and, for the first time, a hint of planed hardwood in the aftertaste. With a teaspoon of water, the smooth texture in enhanced. The fresh, light sweetness becoming pleasantly sour ('Soor Plooms'), with sooty smoke in the finish.

Comment: Remarkable! No trace of damp wood or must or bung cloth - a delicate, fresh, vital, fruity whisky, but with unusual attributes of waxiness and smokiness - uncommon today, more usual before the 1960s.

icon  Generations Mortlach 70 Years Old 46.1%


The Launch
Edinburgh Castle

On the 8th March 2011 Gordon & MacPhail released the 2nd in the Generations series Glenlivet 1940 70 Years Old.

This is a single Speyside malt of unique provenance and outstanding quality. Resonating with aged character – and, indeed, characteristics from another era – it retains vitality, both on the nose and palate. A stupendous whisky! It also epitomises our family values, built on generations of expertise in single malts.


The Launch

On the 20th September 2012 Gordon & MacPhail released Generations Glenlivet 1940 70 Years Old (Release 2).

This second, and final, release from cask 339 is expected to create worldwide interest as it offers one last chance for collectors and consumers to own a piece of Scotland’s liquid history. The product is exclusively available at Vancouver International Airport until its worldwide release on 1 November 2012.

Vancouver International Airport is a gateway between the Far East, North America and Europe.

Tasting Note

Glenlivet 70 Years Old 45.9% (1940)

APPEARANCE: Deep amber, with tawny lights.

AROMA: A mild nose-feel. The first aroma is of an old cocktail cabinet, with Sherry notes predominating; polished wood, soft leather and a trace of candle wax. Behind this are fruity notes, lightly baked apples (even Tarte Tatin), but also fresh orange juice, and just a thread of smoke or ash in the distance. Adding a drop of water suppresses the fruity notes and slightly enhances the sweetness (now tablet) and smokiness.

TASTE: A waxy, teeth-coating mouthfeel; smooth and voluptuous. The taste is sweetish to start, then savoury, with a trace of salt – might this be a rare example of ‘umami’ in whisky, the elusive fifth primary taste? The finish is long, with a faint smokiness in the aftertaste. Drinks well at natural strength. With a drop of water the flavours remain intact.

DEVELOPMENT: Fades gracefully towards vanilla fudge and sanded wood.

Cask Type: First Fill Sherry Butt.

COMMENT: A stupendous whisky! Although it resonates with aged character – and, indeed, characteristics from another era – it retains vitality, both on the nose and on the palate.

icon Generations Glenlivet 70 Years Old 45.9% Release 2


The Launch

On the 2nd of September 2015 Gordon & MacPhail released the next in the Generations range, Mortlach 75 Years Old.

The curtain was raised on what is believed to be the world’s most exclusive single malt Scotch whisky at a unique event at the Royal Opera House in London. Members of the third and fourth generation of the Urquhart family poured the single malt for the guests before Charles MacLean, whisky connoisseur, invited everyone to join them in tasting the whisky, describing it as “Smooth and highly sophisticated – elegant as a grande dame…the Ingrid Bergman of malts!”

Tasting Note

Written by: Charles MacLean

Mortlach 75 Years Old 44.4% (1939)

Appearance: Mid-amber, with rubious lights.

Aroma (Nat. Str.): Fresh and clean; very slight nose prickle: still lively. A highly perfumed, floral top note – lily of the valley, barber’s shop, scented hand cream, soft leather lady’s dress handbag – with a fruity complex in the middle (dried figs, pomegranate, ripe pear. Peach juice); creamy vanilla (Crème Anglaise), even vanilla fudge, and a faint trace of coffee in the background.

Aroma (@30% Vol): Water reduces the floral notes with scented oil (bath oil? Teak oil?), increases the soft leather note and dries out the aroma somewhat (warm sanded hardwood).

Taste (Nat. Str.): Sweet to start, but not as sweet as expected; considerable fresh acidity and slightly mouth drying. Bitter almonds. A most unusual trace of hemp ropes and very faded creosote, lending a slight smokiness. A medium-length finish, leaving an attractive aftertaste of sandalwood.

Taste (@30% Vol): Lightly sweet; slightly oily texture; mouth drying; then slightly bitter finish. Some spice across the tongue. Warming, even at this lower strength.

Cask Type: 1st Fill Sherry Butt Cask

Comment: A most unusual taste – never before encountered. Smooth and highly sophisticated – elegant as a grande dame – the Ingrid Bergman of malts!

Download Tasting Note
icon Download Mortlach 75 Years Old Tasting Note


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