Tributes are being paid to one of Moray’s leading businessmen who has passed away at the age of 76. Ian Urquhart CBE was deeply involved with both the whisky retailer Gordon & MacPhail as well as the textile firm Johnstons of Elgin.

A Deputy Lieutenant of Moray, he also played a pivotal role in many local charities and organisations, both local and national.

Ian joined Gordon and MacPhail in 1967, following in the footsteps of both his grandfather and father.

He was prominent in developing the whisky company over the following four decades, becoming its managing director before finally retiring in 2007.

In addition, he was on the board of Johnstons of Elgin from 1981 onwards, serving as the company’s chairman before eventually being succeeded by his daughter Jenny.

Chris Gaffney, the CEO at Johnstons of Elgin, stated that Ian’s forward planning had helped ensure the company grew significantly during a period when the rest of the UK textiles industry was in decline.

He added: “We all have fond personal memories of Ian. He was a warm and approachable figure who always had time for people.”

Ewen Mackintosh, the current managing director of Gordon & MacPhail, said: “Ian was a pillar of both the whisky industry and the local community.

“He was a champion for Moray and helped to set up the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

“Ian exuded quiet fortitude, humility and a great respect for other people. He will be greatly missed.”

In recognition of his work with two of Moray’s foremost companies, Ian was made a CBE as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee honours list in 2022, alongside his brother Michael.

Glasgow Caledonian University had already awarded him an honorary doctorate in business administration the year previously.

Seymour Monro, the Lord Lieutenant of Moray, said: “Ian Urquhart was a wonderful, gentle man who achieved so much in his lifetime.

“He led Gordon & MacPhail and Johnstons of Elgin on to ever greater growth and the highest quality.

“Both firms won The Queen’s Award for Enterprise on numerous occasions and, of course, Johnstons is a Royal Warrant holder.

“He was a proactive and wise Deputy Lieutenant for seven years.

“Ian was also a significant local benefactor, notably to the Moray Emergency Relief Fund during the pandemic.

“He was rightly widely respected throughout Moray and beyond. A lovely, humble person, he will be hugely missed by his family and so many friends.”

Richard Lochhead, Moray’s MSP also paid tribute.

He said: “My thoughts are with Ian’s loved ones whom I know will miss him dearly.

“Ian, who was Moray through and through , will be fondly remembered by all those who had the privilege of knowing him.

“He was held in high esteem locally, as well as being well known nationally, where he mixed in business circles and commanded the utmost respect given his acumen and experience.

“Ian had a great sense of humour and we would always have a good laugh and a joke when we saw each other. I thoroughly enjoyed our chats and like many others I benefited from his many pearls of wisdom.

“He was a popular, kind and a lovely man who will be sorely missed.”

Ian passed away at Dr Gray’s Hospital on Friday, March 15.

He is survived by his second wife Nichola, his children Neil and Jenny, his grandchildren Iona, Emma. Eilidh, Eddie, Kirsty and Chloe, as well as his sister Rosemary and brother Michael.

His first wife Heather and other brother David predeceased him.