Gordon & MacPhail reveals design of Generations 80 Years Old

Gordon & MacPhail reveals design of Generations 80 Years Old

The whisky creator has unveiled the decanter and oak pavilion created by architect and designer Sir David Adjaye OBE for the world’s oldest single malt Scotch whisky

News | 06 Sep 2021

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Whisky creators Gordon & MacPhail has unveiled its ‘artistry in oak’, showcasing the unique decanter and oak pavilion that houses its Generations 80 Years Old single malt, created by Sir David Adjaye OBE.

The liquid, also known as the world’s oldest single malt Scotch, hails from Glenlivet Distillery and in 2020 at 80 years old it was drawn from the cask. The design is a celebration of the artistry, craft and care that went into the single malt it encases.

The ‘Artistry in Oak’ creative theme for the release bears tribute to the rare liquid, carefully nurtured in an oak cask by four generations of the family that owns Gordon & MacPhail. Never before has oak and single malt spirit been combined for eight decades and the historic liquid has been described by 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.
Up close with the Generations 80 Years Old decanter

“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.”

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.

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.

Public showcases of the Gordon MacPhail Generations 80 Years Old 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 at Sotheby’s HQ on Pacific Place, and at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre as part of the company’s 2021 Hong Kong Autumn Sales Series preview exhibition.
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