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‘Father of Single Malt’ honoured with Centenary Release

Whisky creator Gordon & MacPhail has released a single malt to honour George Urquhart, member of the second generation of the company’s owning family, in what would have been his centenary year.

Laid down in 1956, the year ‘Mr George’ as he was known by colleagues, became senior partner, the 62-year-old single malt features spirit from one of his favourite distilleries, Glen Grant.

Renowned whisky writer Charles MacLean remarked:

“It is no exaggeration to say that George Urquhart was the father, the originator, of the current success and appreciation of Scotch malt whiskies.”

Joining the business in 1933, George Urquhart began his career working alongside his father, John, who had become sole owner of the company in 1915 after John Alexander MacPhail’s retirement and James Gordon’s passing.

‘Mr George’ went on to develop a deep understanding of Scotch whisky, especially the unique interaction that occurs over time between spirit and cask. He was instrumental to the success of single malt, championing it at a time when the vast majority of whisky went towards the production of blends. In 1968, he created the Connoisseurs Choice range giving little-known distilleries a platform to have their whisky enjoyed in its simplest form, as aged single malt.

Over many decades George Urquhart forged new relationships with many of Scotland’s distillers and became arguably the world’s foremost expert in how to combine oak, spirit and time to create single malt whiskies.

His philosophy and legacy live on today as Gordon & MacPhail continues to create a unique depth and breadth of rare single malt Scotch whiskies found nowhere else in the world.

Released as a fitting tribute to this legacy, the Mr George Centenary Edition 1956 from Glen Grant Distillery has been selected for bottling by George Urquhart’s grandson, Stuart, Operations Director at Gordon & MacPhail.

Laid down by Mr George Urquhart himself in a hand-selected first fill Sherry Butt on 13 December 1956, the expression also pays tribute to Speyside, where Mr George spent many years building long-standing relationships with the region’s distilleries.

The commemorative whisky is presented in an exquisite glass decanter and a wooden presentation case. The red and white design is a modern interpretation of the original Connoisseurs Choice bottles from 1968.

Today, Mr George’s legacy is built upon by his family, including his grandson Stephen Rankin, Gordon & MacPhail’s Director of Prestige. Stephen comments:

“My grandfather’s drive, commitment and foresight helped to ensure that single malt Scotch whisky grew in popularity. His introduction of the Connoisseurs Choice range in 1968 was a landmark moment for the sector, launched as several new export markets opened and growth in demand for single malts came from countries including Italy.

“Our specially selected Mr George Centenary Edition embodies the qualities that made Mr George a master of his craft; patience, depth of character and exquisite taste. Not only was Glen Grant one of his favourite drams, the year 1956 is especially significant as this was the year George became Senior Partner at Gordon & MacPhail, marking the first step in a new direction for the company.

“It’s also a reminder of the importance of maintaining relationships built on respect – something which has become our family’s philosophy. Many of these relationships, built decades ago, still thrive today.”

Commenting on Mr George’s legacy and impact, Charles MacLean added:

“It would be true to say that during the ‘dark days’ for Scotch malt whisky (the 1940’s-70’s) when all malt went into blends, Gordon & MacPhail kept the amber light burning. Indeed, when times were really tough, some distilleries survived on orders from that company.”

Only 235 bottles of Gordon & MacPhail Mr George Centenary Edition 1956 from Glen Grant Distillery will be available for purchase from selected specialist whisky retailers internationally for £5000* [UK RRP].

*Prices in international markets may vary due to local taxes and import duties