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Scotch whisky stalwart Michael Urquhart appointed as 2021 president of the prestigious IWSC

Published 23rd November 2020

-Former Gordon & MacPhail managing director to take up high-profile industry position-

Michael Urquhart, former managing director of family-owned Scotch whisky and premium spirits specialist Gordon & MacPhail, has been named 2021 president of the prestigious International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC).

The IWSC’s president represents the organisation’s objective to promote the production of quality wines and spirits throughout the world.

From the beginning, IWSC says it has placed special emphasis on the analysis and independence of its judging process and it is now one of the oldest and most respected industry competitions. It has hundreds of international experts - including buyers, producers, distillers, sommeliers, distributors and influencers – judging wines and spirits throughout the year.

Michael replaces 2020 president Tamara Roberts, CEO of English wine producer Ridgeview. He is the first Scotland-based president since former chair and chief executive of Edrington Sir Ian Good who held the position in 2009. Other iconic members of the wine and spirits industries who have been president include Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, Wolf Blass, Robert Mondavi and Napa Valley winemaker, Warren Winiarski.

Michael retired as managing director of Elgin-based Gordon & MacPhail, the fourth-generation business owned by the Urquhart family, in 2014 and stepped down from the board in 2017 after serving over 36 years in the company.  He travelled extensively throughout the world promoting single malt Scotch whisky bottled by Gordon & MacPhail and also from the family’s owned distillery, Benromach.  

Becoming president of the IWSC adds to the many accolades Michael has received as a result of his dedication to the Scotch whisky industry.  In 1999 he was made a Keeper of the Quaich and in 2012 a Master of the Quaich in recognition of services to the promotion of Scotch whisky worldwide. At the end of 2013, The Whisky Advocate, one of North America’s leading drinks publications presented Michael with a Lifetime Achievement Award.  He was also inducted to the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame in 2014.

Michael Urquhart said: “It’s a real privilege, and I’m humbled, to be chosen as president of such a prestigious organisation as the IWSC. I believe this is a reflection of Gordon & MacPhail’s standing in the drinks industry and I thank all those involved in our family business for their support and contribution to our success over the years.

“I’ve always had the greatest respect for the IWSC and the excellent work it does in maintaining and developing the high-quality reputation of the global wine and spirits industry. I’m very much looking forward to getting behind the IWSC and ensuring it continues to work in the best interests of the entire industry.”

Christelle Guibert, IWSC CEO, said: “We’re delighted to be able to name Michael Urquhart as our new president. The president is chosen for their stature and reputation in the wine and spirits industry, and Michael perfectly fits this remit. He has dedicated his life to representing high quality sprits, in particular Scotch whisky, through his family’s business, Gordon & MacPhail. We’re sure Michael will continue to build the excellent, long-standing reputation of IWSC.”

Ewen Mackintosh, managing director at Gordon & MacPhail, said: “We have seen first-hand how hard Michael has worked for our family business and on behalf of the Scotch whisky industry as a whole. This is yet more well-deserved recognition for Michael, and Gordon & MacPhail, and we’re sure he will be an excellent president.”