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.”
Gordon & MacPhail has unveiled the brand for its new distillery being built in the Cairngorms National Park.
The distillery is to be named The Cairn, reflecting its stunning location overlooking the Cairngorm mountains, at the gateway to Speyside.
The family owned whisky specialists were granted planning permission for the new distillery last year and work started on site in July this year.
Unveiling the new brand Ian Chapman, Brands Director said: “We have put the consumer right at the heart of the process of creating the brand, as we have with the design of the distillery itself. We wanted to make sure it was clearly Scottish, but easy for consumers to pronounce and to spell. This will be particularly important for our international markets when English is not the first language.
“We also had to be mindful of Benromach, our other distillery. We wanted the new brand to complement, not compete.”
Benromach is positioned as a traditional, hand crafted brand so the new brand had to broadly occupy more contemporary territory.
Working with Glasgow based branding agency Good, the company cast its net wide looking for ideas for a name, asking staff and shareholders for suggestions. More than 300 ideas were eventually whittled down to a shortlist which met select criteria.
As well as the name, the identity needed to have icons and graphical elements to make it unmistakable for non-English speaking consumers. An icon has been developed to symbolise the brand; the fragmented shape representing the coming together of many pieces to form a cairn. The typography used for the words “The Cairn” is ultra-modern and premium, yet it is complemented by the use of a Serif font for the word “Distillery” to represent contemporary craft cues that imply heritage and legacy.
Ian Chapman added; “The brand is eye-catching and contemporary and the approach to develop it put the consumer at the centre of our thinking. It is the same approach we have taken to designing The Cairn Distillery itself. The modern building takes advantage of the outstanding views across the River Spey to the Cairngorms and has been designed with the customer at the centre of the experience.”
Scheduled to open in spring 2022, The Cairn Distillery will include a visitor experience, tasting rooms, retail space and coffee shop.
Single malt whisky creator Gordon & MacPhail has announced its Spring Collection, unveiling a series of stunning whiskies which draw upon the unrivalled depth and breadth of knowledge the company has gained from maturing spirit from over 100 Scottish distilleries.
One of the highlights of the Spring Collection isthe Gordon & MacPhail 1981 from Coleburn Distillery which is the latest edition to the ‘Private Collection’ range. This exceptional whisky has been maturing in the company’s specially selected cask at its warehouse in Elgin for 38 years. Spirit from Coleburn Distillery – mothballed in 1985 – was traditionally used in blending but Gordon & MacPhail carefully matched the spirit with a first fill Sherry hogshead to create this extraordinary and very rare single malt.
Hidden from sight behind a rich green landscape, Coleburn Distillery was founded in 1897 in Longmorn, five miles south of Elgin in Speyside. Designed by renowned architect Charles Doig, who also designed the Gordon & MacPhail retail shop in Elgin, the distillery was one of many that closed its doors during a challenging period for the whisky industry in the 1980s.
Laid down on 11th March 1981 to mature in cask 476, Gordon & MacPhail 1981 from Coleburn Distillery was bottled at 55.9% ABV on 14th March 2019. With a distinct mahogany hue, the new release has rich flavours of Sherry-soaked fruit, liquorice, and dark chocolate, and a long finish brimming with toffee notes and a hint of smoke.
Only 101 bottles will be available for purchase worldwide, representative of the unique nature of all ‘Private Collection’ releases.
Established in 1895, Gordon & MacPhail has a worldwide reputation for creating exquisitely rare single malts that have featured spirit from over 100 distilleries across Scotland. Due to the foresight of four generations of the Urquhart family, owners of Gordon & MacPhail, the company is currently maturing spirit from 26 mothballed or closed distilleries, including Coleburn Distillery, in its fabled warehouse.
Stephen Rankin, Gordon & MacPhail’s Director of Prestige and member of the fourth generation of the Urquhart family, said: “Our mantra has always been to ‘do right by the whisky’; recognising when it has reached its ultimate peak and then bottling it regardless of commercial pressures or notable birthdays. Brought to you as a rare single malt, this 38-year-old release exhibits the true spirit of the Coleburn Distillery. My grandfather, George Urquhart, was always keen to champion the quality of the new-make from previously unheralded distilleries and this remarkable whisky perfectly exemplifies his vision. It’s one to celebrate and savour.”
Gordon & MacPhail 1981 from Coleburn Distillery will be available for purchase worldwide from selected specialist retailers* (UK RRP £1,250**).
Two more notable whiskies from the 2019 Spring Collection include Connoisseurs Choice 1998 from Glenburgie (UK RRP £136). With just 245 bottles available, this whisky offers a unique opportunity to own a 20-year-old whisky which is rarely bottled as a single malt. Connoissuers Choice 2006 from Ledaig Distillery offers a striking whisky which has been carefully crafted using peated new-make spirit, expertly paired with a specially selected first-fill Sherry hogshead (UK RRP £73).
For more information on the Spring Collection, please visit***
Gordon & MacPhail has unveiled images of the new distillery the company hopes to build in the Cairngorm National Park in Scotland.
The distillery, which would be built at Craggan near Grantown-on-Spey, has been designed to take advantage of stunning views across the River Spey to the Cairngorm mountains.
The circular design of the building would disguise much of the day to day working of the distillery within the service yard. Sedum roofs will help the buildings blend into the surrounding environment when viewed from higher ground.
More than 150 people visited the exhibition and viewed the plans, which included computer generated images of the distillery and associated buildings.
The family owned firm, who also own Benromach Distillery at Forres, announced last year that it hopes to build a second distillery at Craggan. The production rate will start at 375,000 litres per year, although the distillery will be capable of producing 2 million litres of alcohol in the longer term.
Response locally to the plans has been overwhelmingly positive. Ewen Mackintosh, Gordon & MacPhail’s managing director, said they had been delighted at the response at an event held as part of the planning process. “We’re really pleased at the number of people who came along to see our plans, we couldn’t have asked for a warmer welcome. People are saying how excited they are to see a distillery being proposed for the area as they believe it has the potential to support Grantown-on-Spey as a destination and encourage visitors to stay longer in the town.”
Gordon & MacPhail has been working closely with architects NORR to create the designs for the distillery, the first new build Scotch malt whisky distillery to be built in the Cairngorm National Park.
Members of the fourth generation of the Urquhart family, owners of Gordon & MacPhail, were at the exhibition to hear the views of the local community and emphasise the company’s commitment to the area.
As Stuart Urquhart, Gordon & MacPhail Operations Director, explained: “We are a longstanding family-owned business with strong roots and commitment to the north of Scotland. Building and operating our second distillery is part of our generational plan to grow a long-term sustainable business, whilst continuing to be part of the fabric of the local community.”
Gordon & MacPhail is a family owned business which has built its knowledge and experience of the Scotch whisky industry over a 120-year history. In 1993, the Urquhart family realised a long-held ambition when they acquired Benromach Distillery and reopened it after extensive refurbishment in 1998.
A member of the world famous Malt Whisky Trail, Benromach Distillery attracts around 15,000 visitors to the area every year, a figure they aim to increase further with the opening of their Red Door Gin visitor experience this year.
Gordon & MacPhail, the single malt Scotch whisky creator, has unveiled a new addition to its ‘Private Collection’: Gordon & MacPhail 1948 from Glen Grant Distillery. At 70-years-old, it is the oldest expression from the Speyside distillery ever bottled.
The latest release closely follows the acclaimed 50-year-old Gordon & MacPhail 1968 from Caol Ila Distillery, the oldest single malt ever bottled from the Islay distillery.
The rare and exclusive Gordon & MacPhail 1948 from Glen Grant Distillery was matured in Cask 2154, a first fill Sherry butt filled on 11 June 1948 – six years before barley rationing restrictions were lifted following the Second World War. Only 210 decanters of this highly sought-after whisky are available to purchase.
The ‘Private Collection’ comprises a selection of rare single malts from celebrated, little-known, or closed distilleries personally selected by members of the Urquhart family, owners of Gordon & MacPhail.
Members of four generations of the Urquhart family nurtured Cask 2154. John Urquhart selected the cask with his son, George, back in 1948. George oversaw storage of the cask in the fabled Warehouse No. 5 at Glen Grant Distillery. His eldest son, Ian, monitored the whisky and, in May 1968, arranged for the Sherry butt to be moved to Gordon & MacPhail’s Elgin warehouse. Ian’s nephew, Stuart, the company’s Operations Director, selected Cask 2154 for bottling on 19 October 2018.
Stephen Rankin, Gordon & MacPhail’s Director of Prestige and member of the fourth generation of the Urquhart family, reflected: “Our family has matured single malt whiskies for 123 years, each generation passing on its knowledge of how to combine spirit and oak to create exquisite whiskies. Four generations of my family have carefully nurtured Cask 2154 over its 70 years to produce this unique whisky.
“My great-grandfather, John, selected the first fill Sherry butt in 1948 to fill with new-make spirit from Glen Grant. My family has patiently watched over this cask, regularly monitoring and sampling the whisky, recognising the right moment to bottle it at its ultimate peak. This masterpiece epitomises the skill and craft involved in matching a cask to new-make spirit, as well as our dedication to creating unique and intriguing whiskies.
“Thanks to the notable influence of the Sherry butt on the spirit over the years, the elegant whisky displays flavours of dried fruit, orange zest, and cracked black pepper whilst maintaining a long, smooth charred oak finish. The remarkable 70-year-old malt also has delicate smoky notes, a reminder that, in 1948, the distillery would have been using traditional practices on their floor maltings and local peat as a fuel.”
Bottled at cask strength (ABV 48.6%), the amber coloured single malt is presented in an exquisitely engraved, hand-blown crystal decanter. The stunning whisky is framed in a striking wooden presentation case, with doors which smoothly slide open to reveal the precious contents.
In April 2018, Gordon & MacPhail streamlined its portfolio of single malt Scotch whiskies. Over recent months, the company has unveiled several remarkable ‘Private Collection’ releases: Gordon & MacPhail 1968 from Caol Ila Distillery and Gordon & MacPhail 1954 from Glenlivet Distillery.
Gordon & MacPhail 1948 from Glen Grant Distillery will be available for purchase worldwide from selected specialist retailers* (UK RRP £17,500**).
For more information, please visit www.gordonandmacphail.com.
*Gordon & MacPhail 1948 from Glen Grant Distillery will be available to purchase in the US in spring 2019.
**Prices in international markets may vary due to local taxes and import duties.
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