Gordon & Macphail reveals design of unique decanter and oak pavillion by acclaimed arhitect and design Sir David Adjaye, for World’s oldest single malt scotch whisky.
Leading independent bottler and distiller Gordon & MacPhail has revealed a unique jewel-like Glencairn Crystal decanter and oak pavilion designed by world-renowned architect and designer Sir David Adjaye OBE to celebrate the 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 whisky maturation, where experimentation, patience and quality have remained the foundations for the company’s progress since 1895.
The creative theme for the ground-breaking release and stunning presentation – ‘Artistry in Oak’ – pays tribute to the precious and rare liquid that has been carefully matured 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; the historic liquid has been described by renowned whisky writer Charlie Maclean MBE as “truly, one of the finest I’ve ever encountered.”
The jewel-like decanter contains lenses to provide focus on the richly coloured liquid. A generous volume of crystal is both heavy set and delicate, providing 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,” explains Sir David 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 Scotland based family-owned Glencairn Crystal Studio, experts in ultra-premium decanters.
While similar, no two decanters are exactly the same, reflecting the complexity and individuality of the process and its organic nature.
Each decanter is 30% lead crystal and features a wooden shoulder plate made of solid oak with a matt black painted finish, that has been engraved and individually numbered.
Each one also features a metal collar, engraved metal transit top and metal decorative stopper made of black lacquer plated brass. The engraved transit stopper is fitted with a mirror-end, fleur grade cork (made from the finest, exclusive quality of corkwood available).
This pioneering contemporary decanter design was particularly challenging for the team at Glencairn Crystal because the internal profile of each decanter had to curve towards the base which is almost impossible to achieve on a decanter with a square external profile. The technique used had to be adjusted and trialled numerous times to achieve the exact desired finish.
Controlling the size and shape of the shoulder area on each hand blown crystal decanter was also very challenging as the wooden shoulder plate had to fit perfectly to prevent any gap or spacing from showing.
“Our reputation has been built on a commitment to personal service and quality workmanship for some of the rarest spirits on earth. But producing the Generations decanter has been one of the most challenging projects we have ever undertaken,” remarks Scott Davidson, Director at Glencairn. “From the outset we knew we were producing a work of art befitting of the world’s oldest single malt,” he continues, “which adds a certain pressure.”
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 of the 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.