Gordon & MacPhail, the esteemed Scotch whisky company with a legacy spanning over a century, has announced a momentous shift in its approach. The company intends to cease purchasing stock for independent bottlings, marking a strategic focus on whiskies from their very own distilleries, Benromach and The Cairn. While this shift will take effect in 2024, the company assures whisky enthusiasts that their bottlings will continue to grace shelves for several more decades as they work through their aging stock.
Gordon & MacPhail's outgoing managing director, Ewen Mackintosh, views this transformation as a "natural evolution" for the company, influenced by factors such as the tightening supply of new-make spirit and the increasing availability of bottlings from lesser-known distilleries. The company has always held the philosophy of complementing, not competing with, distillery owners' offerings. Yet, with the evolving whisky landscape and the prevalence of official bottlings, the company has chosen to steer towards exclusive and unique expressions from their own brands.
Over the past five to 10 years, Gordon & MacPhail has undertaken substantial efforts to streamline its global whisky portfolio. Formerly boasting a wide range of releases, spanning from eight-year-olds to 80-year-olds, the company has now shifted its approach away from aiming to cater to every consumer's preferences.
With the evolving market dynamics, the demand for eight-year-old whiskies has decreased significantly. The entry-level segment, offering younger price points and single malt selections, is now well-served by official and independent bottlings. As a result, the company is reshaping its portfolio strategy, focusing on the finite nature of each cask and embracing single casks and small batch bottlings. The emphasis lies on celebrating the distinctive character of individual casks and the diverse expressions of various distilleries.
While the company adapts its whisky offerings, it remains committed to utilizing sherry casks sourced from three bodegas, catering to the production needs of Benromach and The Cairn distilleries. Additionally, they repurpose emptied casks from independent bottlings at these distilleries, ensuring sustainable and efficient use of resources.
Furthermore, the company's flagship South Street shop, renowned for its excellence and recipient of multiple Icons of Whisky awards, is undergoing a transformation. The goal is to evolve the space from a traditional shop into an immersive visitor experience that delves into the illustrious history of Gordon & MacPhail. Visitors will be treated to an insightful journey, celebrating the company's pivotal role in promoting single malt Scotch whisky.
Security of supply has been a persistent challenge for Gordon & MacPhail throughout its long history as a bottler and retailer. In 1993, they ventured into owning a distillery with the acquisition of Benromach, and in 2022, The Cairn distillery commenced production, providing the company with a second source of supply. The Cairn's whiskies, starting with the 12 Year Old expression, will seamlessly integrate into the company's portfolio as younger bottlings from Gordon & MacPhail become less available.
The company's global portfolio of whiskies has undergone significant streamlining in recent years, moving away from offering a wide range of age expressions. Instead, they focus on celebrating the uniqueness of single casks and individual distilleries, offering more small batch bottlings. Notably, their flagship South Street shop, renowned for its whisky expertise, is undergoing extensive renovations to become an immersive visitor experience, recounting Gordon & MacPhail's rich history and its role in promoting single malt Scotch whisky.
Despite this significant change, Gordon & MacPhail whisky enthusiasts need not worry about any immediate impact. The company believes the effects will be felt over generations, and their whiskies will remain an integral part of their business for the next century. The decision reflects a positive step towards controlling their destiny, with a dedicated focus on Benromach and The Cairn, ensuring the continuation of their esteemed legacy in the whisky world.
About Gordon & MacPhail
Gordon & MacPhail is a prestigious and long-established family-owned company specializing in Scotch whisky. Founded in 1895 in Elgin, Scotland, the company has played a significant role in the whisky industry, earning a reputation for expertise, quality, and innovation.
Initially, Gordon & MacPhail began as a grocer and wine merchant, but they soon expanded their business to include whisky. They recognized the potential of whisky and began sourcing single malt whiskies from various distilleries, bottling them under their own label. This practice of independent bottling, where the whisky is sourced from different distilleries and then bottled by a third-party company, became one of Gordon & MacPhail's signature offerings.
Over the years, the company has amassed an impressive portfolio of whiskies from various distilleries, showcasing a diverse range of ages, styles, and flavors. Their commitment to quality and authenticity has earned them a loyal following among whisky enthusiasts worldwide.
In 1993, Gordon & MacPhail took a bold step by purchasing the Benromach distillery, marking their entry into distillery ownership. Benromach is renowned for its traditional craftsmanship and characterful whiskies, aligning perfectly with Gordon & MacPhail's dedication to excellence.
In 2022, the company expanded its distillery portfolio with the establishment of The Cairn distillery near Grantown-on-Spey. Unlike the traditional style of Benromach, The Cairn distillery employs modern technologies in its whisky-making process.
Apart from their bottling and distillery endeavors, Gordon & MacPhail also operates a flagship retail store on South Street in Elgin. The store is an esteemed destination for whisky connoisseurs, offering an extensive selection of whiskies from various regions and distilleries.
Throughout its history, Gordon & MacPhail has upheld its commitment to the whisky industry, earning respect for its expertise in selecting exceptional casks, nurturing relationships with distilleries, and promoting the rich heritage of single malt Scotch whisky. Their contributions to the whisky world have earned them numerous accolades and awards, solidifying their position as a leading authority in the realm of Scotch whisky.