Gordon and MacPhail – Historical Facts

James Gordon and John Alexander MacPhail announced the opening of their ‘centrical and commodious premises’ on South Street, Elgin, the whisky capital of the world, on 24th May 1895, promising to provide their customers with ‘the utmost satisfaction’ and guaranteeing ‘a superior article at a popular price’.
The original business combined groceries with wines and spirits, but from the outset there was a strong leaning towards whisky. The firm blended and bottled under its own labels, as well as dealing in mature whiskies, and James Gordon himself conducted a separate and very successful whisky broking business.
In the first year of trading, John Urquhart, joined the firm to assist with the whisky and wholesale side, his youngest son George, who joined in 1933, and his grandchildren, still own and operate the company.
Until relatively recently, very few whiskies were bottled and sold as single malts, 98% of production went for blending. In the Highlands, however, malt whisky has always been preferred. It was generally bought direct from the distilleries, or from whisky merchants like ourselves. James Gordon and John MacPhail not only served this local market but from 1896 they were also making fine malt whiskies available to customers beyond the Highlands and by 1914, they were exporting abroad.
Since the early days, Gordon & MacPhail’s policy has been to select and buy new whisky from Scotland’s leading distilleries, mature it in selected casks and bottle it when we consider it to be at its best. Adjustments in stock levels are made by buying and selling on the brokers’ market.
Some of the whiskies we stock today are extremely rare, either because of their age – we offer some at fifty years old – or because the stocks we have been able to obtain are in very short supply, or, in some cases because the distillery has ceased to operate. We now carry possibly the largest range of whiskies in the world. Most can be found at our retail shop, which is still in the original premises in South Street, Elgin. Despite the many developments over the last one hundred years and the fact that we now have customers all over the world, it has been said that the service we provide today is ‘in the best traditions of an old-styled family wine and spirit merchant’

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