One of the world's rarest whiskies unveiled by Gordon & MacPhail

A Glenlivet that was first laid down during World War Two, and which is thought to be one of the rarest whiskies in the world, is set to be released by a specialist whisky company based in Elgin.

Published 2nd Oct 2017
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

The seventy-year-old Glenlivet 1943, which is due to be unveiled by Gordon & MacPhail, commemorates a key date in wartime history.

Distilled on January 14 1943, as Prime Minister Winston Churchill met President Franklin D Roosevelt, General Charles de Gaulle and General Dwight D Eisenhower at the Casablanca Conference, the new make spirit was filled into a carefully selected Sherry hogshead at the renowned Speyside distillery.

It represents the last 1943 vintage from the independent bottler's expansive stock inventory.

Glenlivet 1943

Only 40 decanters of the exceptionally rare whisky have been released. Picture: Gordon & Macphail

An exceptionally rare cask, the whisky, which only forty decanters of will be made available for sale globally, has been unveiled by the brand as one of the "oldest and most exclusive single malt whiskies in the world".

• READ MORE: Interview: Gordon & MacPhail’s Stephen Rankin on the release of The Glenlivet 1943

Priced at £30,000, the release of the Private Collection Glenlivet 1943 by Gordon & MacPhail, is the latest offering from the Elgin-based whisky specialist's ‘Private Collection’ range.

In 1943, Cask 121 was selected by John and George Urquhart, first and second generation of the Urquhart family, for filling at the Glenlivet Distillery.

A small number of the rare decanters will be made available from Gordon & MacPhail’s historic retail shop in Elgin.

Those purchasing a decanter at the South Street outlet will also enjoy an exclusive tasting experience included in their purchase.

The whisky is made rarer by the fact that by the winter of 1943, the war had severely curtailed production of whisky in Scotland, with many Scottish distilleries having been forced to close after October 1942, with The Glenlivet Distillery itself halting production in the Spring of 1943.

Described by the Gordon & MacPhail team as a whisky of "great balance and approachability", the Glenlivet 1943 is said to have a "full, fresh flavour of dark chocolate, oranges, and oakiness" which intermingles with "treacle and liquorice" culminating with an "incredibly long finish".

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Stephen Rankin, a director of the company and senior partner John Urquhart's great-grandson, made the decision to bottle it.

He said: "This beautiful whisky has been nurtured and cared for by four generations of our family and it gives us enormous pleasure to release this unique and incredibly rare single malt.

"Gordon & MacPhail has been in the whisky business for over 122 years, with each generation building and handing on a lifetime's expertise to the next.

"We believe Private Collection Glenlivet 1943 by Gordon & MacPhail is a malt without comparison from a defining date in the history of a world in conflict.

"Today, whisky is a wonderfully unifying drink and this rare example gives people from across the world the chance to own and savour a defining piece of Scotland's liquid history."

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Whisky writer and rare whisky specialist Jonny McCormick, who wrote a commemorative book which accompanies each decanter, said: "Gordon & MacPhail is a singular whisky company emphasised by their incomparable capacity to draw on stocks from the 1940s.

"This is an unparalleled opportunity to acquire an exquisite whisky that embodies the concept of rarity.

"The remarkable complexity and vivid flavours that have developed over a lifetime in wood ensure this single malt Scotch whisky will make a handsome addition to the world's finest whisky collections."

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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