Gordon & MacPhail

58-60 South Street

Elgin, Moray

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What is it? I wonder if James Gordon and John Alexander MacPhail thought that this iconic shop would still be trading today when they set it up more than 130 years ago. The brothers announced the opening of their “centrical and commodious premises” on South Street, Elgin, on May 24, 1895. One of their first employees was a young man named John Urquhart, who became a partner in 1915 when MacPhail retired. When Gordon died in 1917, the Urquhart family took over the business and still run it today. This independent family business gained a world renowned reputation as the go-to place for great quality whisky from a wide range of distilleries. As well as the shop, which the company expanded into a multi-faceted international business: they purchased Benromach Distillery in 1993.

What’s on sale? The shop itself is a celebration of Scottish produce with a delicatessen offering the largest selection of the finest cheeses available in northeast Scotland. The shelves are stacked full of high-quality grocery products, wines, and spirits. Of course I spent my time in the Whisky Room, which holds around 1000 different single malt whiskies.

Interesting fact: With their knowledge and passion for Scotch whisky, the Urquhart family always held a long-standing ambition to own a distillery. This dream became reality in 1993 with the purchase of the Benromach Distillery, situated 12 miles from their shop in Elgin. After five years of loving restoration, Benromach Distillery was officially reopened by HRH Prince Charles in 1998.

Verdict: This is a must-see for anyone visiting the area. They take great care and attention over what they sell, and not only with the whisky. The Whisky Room is impressive but it wouldn’t be as successful without the knowledgeable staff who ensure that you find your perfect bottle every time. There is also something quite reassuring about knowing your well-earned cash is going back into a local family business.

Andy’s choice: As well as whiskies from around Scotland and all over the world they obviously sell their own products. The company sell brands under the names of Connoisseurs Choice, Cask Strength, Rare Old and Speymalt, These brands are whiskies bought by the company and sold as Gordon & MacPhail bottlings. One I love from their distillery is the Benromach 15 Year Old, which has a combination of bourbon and sherry casks in its maturation and can be picked up for around £50.

Prices: Some of the prices may seem steep if you are used to buying your salmon and whisky at the supermarket but rest assured you are purchasing quality here.

Perfect for: Taking a distillery tour with friends from abroad and stopping in to buy some delicious Scottish produce before settling down for the night.

Avoid if: You only ever venture as far as your local supermarket in search of something special.

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