Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Glen Grant Distillery 1948

Philip Day looks at Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Glen Grant Distillery 1948

In his feature about Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Glen Grant Distillery 1948, Philip provides the brand’s tasting notes as well as his own tasting notes.

Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Glen Grant Distillery 1948

The New Year began with loud fireworks and hearty renditions of Robert Burn’s ‘Auld Lang Syne’. To welcome 2019 in style and just in time for Burn’s Night, Gordon & MacPhail, the specialists in Single malt Scotch whisky maturation is releasing its first very desirable ultra-rare single malt bottling of 2019, as part of its newly redesigned ‘Private Collection’ range of rare and exclusive single cask releases, from celebrated, little-known and closed distilleries, which have been specially selected personally by a member of the Urquhart family, owners of the Gordon & MacPhail company for four generations.

The new ultra-rare single malts unveiled by Gordon & MacPhail is a truly stunning addition to its ‘Private Collection’ range: a 70-Years-Old single malt from the Glen Grant Distillery – the oldest expression of single malt from the Speyside distillery ever bottled and released onto the market.

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.

Members of four generations of the Urquhart family have 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 current Operations Director, finally selected Cask 2154 for bottling on 19 October 2018.

Given the extreme rarity of this single malt bottling, only 210 decanters will be available worldwide at a UK RRP of £17,500 from selected specialist retailers.

(NB this release will be available to purchase in the US in Spring 2019)

(Please note that the price in international markets may vary as a result of additional local taxes and import duties.)

Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Glen Grant Distillery 1948


Glen Grant Distillery 1948 (Private Collection) 48.6% ABV

Region: Speyside

Distilled: Friday, 11 June, 1948

Bottled: Friday, 18 October, 2018

Age: 70 years old

Cask No.: 2154

Cask Type: First fill Sherry butt

Outturn: 210 bottles


Tasting notes by Gordon & MacPhail

Colour: Amber

Aroma: Initially sweet – vanilla fudge, strawberry, and raspberry nuances develop into thick apricot jam. Waxy polish aromas emerge and mix with cinnamon and candied orange peel. Gentle and lingering smoky traces complement the balanced mature oak notes. With time, a subtle, fresh mint note unfolds. 

Taste: Smooth; subtle Sherry-soaked fruit flavours fuse with fresh orange zest and  cardamom undertones. A slightly dried herbal element develops and transforms into mouth-warming cracked black pepper and aniseed flavours. Delicate smoky notes endure.

Finish: A smooth, long, lingering finish introduces elegant charred oak and flashes of citrus.


Personal tasting notes (Official sample provided by Gordon & MacPhail )

Nose: Beautifully coherent aromas with an initial sweet fragrances of summer berry fruit and vanilla infused caramel that are fresh, fruity and vibrant, in spite of its maturity. These are followed by a sprinkling of cinnamon and candied orange peel mixed with a faint hint of waxy wood polish. Traces of a gentle smoky undercurrent continue to make their presence known harmonizing with notes of mature oak, while hiding in the background is a slight fresh scent of menthol.

Taste: The smooth influence of the sherried wood helps to bring forth soaked vine fruit flavours mingled with zesty orange peel. A notable herbal note helps to introduce warming spicy notes that mingles piquant aniseed with freshly ground black pepper. Delicate background smoky charred oak notes provide a rather drying influence.

Finish: A rather long, perfectly smooth finish with just the right balance of charred oak flavours mixing pleasantly with traces of orange.


With Water: Not added, therefore I cannot comment.

In short, an outstanding, superb old dram, that has aged gracefully. On the nose it promises much. On the palate it delivers a refined and extremely rewarding experience. It made me pause, reflect and savour every single drop. I thoroughly recommend it as it deserves to be part of any serious whisky aficionado’s collection. Don’t miss out!

Of this unique release, Stephen Rankin, Gordon & MacPhail’s Director of Prestige and fourth generation member 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 (48.6% ABV), 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.

Gordon & MacPhail’s ’Private Collection’ range affords discerning whisky enthusiasts the opportunity to enjoy some of the oldest and rarest single malts in the world. This latest release epitomises the expertise and commitment that has gone into pairing spirit and cask over 123 years and four generations of the Urquhart family. Thanks to the foresight of the company’s founding forefathers, they possess one of the most extensive single malt whisky libraries in the world, with expressions from over 100 Scottish distilleries.

Indeed, among Gordon & MacPhail’s maturing stocks are casks from no fewer than twenty-six closed, mothballed or demolished Scotch distilleries – a liquid archive unrivalled anywhere else in the world.

Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Glen Grant Distillery 1948

Further ultra-rare releases from the new ‘Private Collection’ will be revealed in coming months and will be available to purchase from specialist whisky retailers.

For further information, please visit their website at


Gordon & MacPhail Whiskies

Established in 1895, family-owned Gordon & MacPhail is renowned as a curator of some of the world’s finest and rarest single malt Scotch whiskies from over 100 distilleries. Four generations of the Urquhart family have continued to pursue the perfect partnership between spirit and cask.

Since its foundation, Gordon & MacPhail has carefully matched spirit to the highest quality oak casks which are sent to distilleries throughout Scotland, filled with new-make spirit, and matured either at the distillery of origin or in the firm’s own bonded warehouses in Elgin.

Managing a portfolio of casks is a complex business. The Urquhart family have honed their expertise over generations allowing them to fully comprehend how the different styles of spirit produced by Scotland’s individual distilleries will mature in cask.

It is this simple but endlessly complex pairing that creates an intriguing and unique portfolio of expressions – single malts that Scotch whisky lovers will not find anywhere else.

It is this in-depth knowledge and experience of cask curation that allows them to consistently deliver a range of perfectly matured whiskies.

“Our maturation management creates complex, balanced and subtle single malts, which will only carry the Gordon & MacPhail name when ready”.


The Gordon & MacPhail core malt whisky portfolio:

In 2018, the company unveiled its new portfolio:

  • Discovery – Utterly dependable, this flavour-led range is the perfect introduction to our portfolio of quality single malt Scotch whiskies.
  • Distillery Labels – A range celebrating our long-standing relationships with Scotland’s distilleries.
  • Connoisseurs Choice – The heart of our portfolio – always unique, these non-chill-filtered, natural coloured, small batch expressions are genuine one-offs.
  • Private Collection – Greatly-aged single malts from celebrated, little-known, or closed distilleries specially selected by members of the Urquhart family.
  • Generations – A prestigious collection of old, rare, and exclusive masterpieces.

(See website for more details)

In addition to possessing an inimitable knowledge of Scottish single malts and passion for matching spirit with oak, the Urquhart family long held an unfulfilled ambition to own its own distillery. This desire finally became a reality in 1993 with the purchase of the Benromach Distillery on the outskirts of Forres, just twelve miles from the steps of their world famous shop in Elgin. Following five years of careful and deliberate re-equipping, Benromach Distillery was officially reopened by HRH Prince Charles in 1998.


Company Details:

Address: Gordon & MacPhail, George House, Boroughbriggs Road, Elgin, Moray, Scotland, IV30 1JY

Telephone: +44 (0) 1343 545 111

Website:  Twitter: @gordon_macphail

Email: Facebook: @gordonandmacphail

Instagram: gordonandmacphail



Media materials and complimentary samples kindly provided by Gordon & MacPhail.



Images kindly provided by Gordon & MacPhail

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