‘ARTISTRY IN OAK’

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GORDON & MACPHAIL REVEALS DESIGN OF UNIQUE DECANTER AND OAK PAVILION BY ACCLAIMED ARCHITECT AND DESIGNER SIR DAVID ADJAYE FOR WORLD’S OLDEST SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY

ELGIN, SCOTLAND, 2nd September 2021:  Whisky creators Gordon & MacPhail today revealed the unique jewel-like decanter and oak pavilion designed by world-renowned architect and designer Sir David Adjaye OBE to celebrate their release of the oldest single malt Scotch ever bottled – Generations 80YO from Glenlivet Distillery

The design is a celebration of the artistry, craft and care that went into the single malt it encases.  Its unique form represents Gordon & MacPhail’s history of repeatedly pushing the boundaries in terms of long-term whisky maturation, where experimentation, patience, and quality have remained the foundations for progress since 1895.

The creative theme for the ground-breaking release – ‘Artistry in Oak’ – bears tribute to both the precious and rare liquid, carefully nurtured in an oak cask by four generations of the family that owns Gordon & MacPhail, as well as its stunning presentation. Never before has oak and single malt spirit been combined for eight decades and the historic liquid has been described by renowned whisky writer Charlie Maclean as “truly, one of the finest I’ve ever encountered.”

“Oak is a primary material, produced from the planet,” explains David Adjaye. “I appreciate its preciousness as an integral part of the whisky-making process. I wanted to create a design that pays tribute to the role oak plays in transforming liquid into an elixir with almost magical properties.”

The jewel-like decanter contains lenses to provide focus on the richly coloured liquid. A generous volume of crystal balances both heft and delicacy, and provides a beguiling, tactile presence.  

“The gentle combination of liquid, weight and form invokes a sense of care, responsibility and slowness.  As you pour, a sense of time fades and all that is understood is the preciousness of each drop,” adds Adjaye.

Designed to appear as hewn from a single solid block of crystal, the decanter’s curving core needed to be individually hand-blown by experienced artisans overseen by Glencairn Crystal Studio, experts in ultra-premium decanters and another family business based in Scotland.

“The ambition was to create a vessel in which Gordon & MacPhail’s unique experience and tradition is transmitted and incorporated,” remarks Adjaye. “The vertical struts of the outer pavilion are reflective of trees in an oak forest from which the staves of the original cask were hewn. A pivotal moment in the design narrative is the relationship between the light and shadow as the casing is opened and closed.  The light refracted through the opened casing recreates the sunlight as it shines through oak trees within a natural forest setting. The act of opening the pavilion becomes a ceremonial and sensorial process.” 

While similar, no two decanters are exactly the same, reflecting the complexity of the process and its organic nature.

The oak pavilion is constructed from sustainably sourced oaks grown less than five miles from makers, Wardour Workshops, another family-owned company, based in Dorset, South West England. 

Co-founder at Wardour, Dom Parish, comments, “Oak is an inherent part of British craftsmanship, full of character. It has this wondrously enduring quality that lasts forever. Once it is cut and sized, it’s still a living organism.”

Ewen Mackintosh, Managing Director at Gordon & MacPhail, comments, “It is often quoted that the maturation of whisky over very long periods of time is more art than science.  The decanter and oak pavilion that David has created for our historic release is a true reflection of this art; the presentation is itself a work of art.  I’m sure George Urquhart and his father John, who had the extraordinary foresight to lay down spirit from the Glenlivet Distillery in a bespoke Gordon & MacPhail cask to be enjoyed after their lifetime, would love the design. It pays tribute to their craft and vision.”

Only 250 70cl decanters have been created. Decanter #1 is being auctioned by Sotheby’s in Hong Kong on 7 October 2021 with a framed cask end from the original cask and a lithograph of the original concept drawings signed by David Adjaye. Auction proceeds (minus costs) are being donated to local Scottish charity Trees for Life whose mission is to rewild the Caledonian forest.

“The donation will help the Trees for Life nursery which grows 100,000 rare and native trees, including oaks, from seed each year,” continues Ewen Mackintosh. “It’s fitting that this whisky will provide a legacy for all that will last for generations.”

Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s Spirits Specialist says: “Joining forces with Gordon & MacPhail to auction the world’s first 80-Year-Old single malt whisky is a genuine thrill. To have expertly matured this whisky for eight decades and maintained the vibrancy of the exquisite liquid is remarkable. Decanter #1 represents a landmark moment in Scotland’s liquid history and the cask end and signed 1-of-1 lithograph further elevate this unique and very special lot.”

Public showcases of the Gordon MacPhail Glenlivet 80YO decanter and oak pavilion will be exhibited from early September 2021 in Sotheby’s historic galleries on New Bond Street in London, at Sotheby’s HQ in New York on the Upper East Side, and at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre as part of the company’s 2021 Hong Kong Autumn Sales Series preview exhibition.

THE TASTE OF LIQUID HISTORY

Charlie MacLean MBE, Scotland’s leading whisky writer and world authority on the subject, presents his tasting notes for Gordon & MacPhail Generations 80YO from Glenlivet Distillery:

Appearance: Deep umber with magenta lights; old polished rosewood.

Aroma: A complex, mellow nose-feel, still vivacious after all these years. Top notes of almond oil, scented hand-soap, backed by sandalwood and gorse flowers on a war m day. A whiff of peat-smoke in the empty glass.

Palate: An oily texture, and lightly sweet to start (dates, salted plums, figs), drying elegantly (traces of dry Oloroso Sherry), towards a lengthy menthol finish. Drop of water increases spiciness.

Summary: Vibrant and wholly satisfying. Truly, one of the finest malts I have ever encountered.  

GORDON & MACPHAIL GENERATIONS 80YO FROM GLENLIVET DISTILLERY AVAILABLE FROM 3 SEPTEMBER 2021 

PRICE ON APPLICATION VIA GORDONANDMACPHAIL.COM

FOR DETAILS RE SOTHEBY’S HONG KONG AUCTION OF DECANTER #1 ON 7 OCTOBER VISIT SOTHEBYS.COM @GORDONANDMACPHAIL

Tags: ArtistryDecanterGordon and MacPhailoak
Greg

Greg

My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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