Whisky Advocate

Whisky Advocate Award: Lifetime Achievement

December 22nd, 2013

Michael Urquhart

Managing Director, Gordon & MacPhail

M. Urquhart_Gordon & MacPhail CREDIT John PaulMichael Urquhart, son of George Urquhart and grandson of John Urquhart, joined the family firm of independent whisky bottlers Gordon & MacPhail in 1981. His grandfather started work at the little grocer’s shop in Elgin in 1895, just a year after they first opened their doors.

“Mr. George,” Michael’s father, launched the ever popular Connoisseur’s Choice range in the 1960s. George’s three sons Ian, David, and Michael followed him into the company, along with Rosemary Rankin, John Urquhart’s granddaughter. Shortly after the firm’s centenary, Benromach distillery reopened under their ownership and continues to grow.

For the whisky community, the unrivaled release of the Generations Mortlach 70 year old 1938 and Generations Glenlivet 70 year old 1940 shone like a beacon around the world. It was Michael who led the team that designed and launched these exceptional whiskies. The Mortlach decanter #1 was gifted to Queen Elizabeth II and is proudly displayed in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Michael is impeccably well-mannered and gracious company, yet he commands instinctive, razor-sharp business acumen too: what better qualities to represent Scotland and Scotch whisky around the world? A Master of the Quaich, Michael’s tireless energies are focused on driving forward exports of Scotch whisky, particularly Benromach, to new and existing markets. This ensures he is constantly traveling to the fifty or more markets they supply. His vitality is enviable; with a spring in his step, he’ll greet you with a recent anecdote along the lines of ‘last week, when I was in Russia’…or was it Taiwan, or perhaps Vancouver? No wonder the company was awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade in 2013, repeating the honor they received in 2009.

He is the last of George Urquhart’s sons to manage Gordon & MacPhail. The next generation are already playing their part in this unique family business and one day they’ll be in charge, but for now, we salute Michael Urquhart’s distinguished achievements. —Jonny McCormick

Photo credit: John Paul


6 Responses to “Whisky Advocate Award: Lifetime Achievement”

  1. Lew Bryson says:

    We just got the following from Michael Urquhart, and wanted to share it:

    Dear Jonny and John

    What can I say! I am very humbled and proud to have been awarded this prestigious award which was totally unexpected.

    It is a privilege to be involved in such a fantastic industry of such rich heritage whilst forward looking and innovative. As a Chartered Accountant I’m not meant to enjoy the dizzy heights of marketing, travelling the world telling consumers about Scotch Whisky, particularly those from Benromach and G&M, and the inevitable whisky tastings (responsibly of course!) but boy I’m enjoying it! One person doesn’t make a Company and I have the privilege of working with a great team here at G&M. This award is every bit as much for all of these people as it is for me and I thank them all for their support.

    Again, very many thanks to you both and Whisky Advocate for this great accolade, I’m very humbled. May I take this opportunity to wish you both, your families and anyone else that reads this a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year when it comes.

    Best wishes,


  2. B.J. Reed says:

    Congrats Michael!! Well deserved. G&M is a class act in every respect.

  3. Andy Dunn says:

    As an importer of Benromach and Gordon & MacPhail into Alberta and Western Canada, I and my team are thrilled to call Michael our friend.

    He is a gentleman, and more than a deserving recipient to receive this award.

    Congratulations Michael!!

  4. Gary Keimach says:

    Congratulations to Michael on this well deserved award! He is a true steward of the industry. Michael’s consistent leadership and dedication continues to inspire us all. As the exclusive United States importer for Benromach and Gordon & MacPhail, we are very proud to be associated with him and his fine company.

  5. Jack Smith, CSS - President, Atlanta Scotch Club says:

    This award is most appropriate. Michael and his company have a well-earned reputation for integrity and the highest standards while offering the widest range of quality whisky in the industry. In sum, when asked to name the great men of the whisky industry of my generation, the first name on my list is Michael Urquhart.

  6. Mary McGugan says:

    Heartfelt congratulations Michael! We are thrilled to hear you have been so honoured. It is indeed well-deserved. We at McGugan’s in Toronto are so happy to have a relationship with you and Gordon & MacPhail! Having been to Benromach within the last year, we can heartily attest to your humble assertion that a great team does indeed surround you! Bless!

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