Famous Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton had an affinity for Scotch and now three bottles of his 117-year-old whiskey are being returned to the shack where he once stored them.
The rare, 19th century bottles of Mackinlay’s whiskey were discovered hidden under the floorboards of Shackelton’s abandoned expedition base more than 100 years after he left the site. Recently, the Scotch was briefly removed so that a distiller in Scotland could replicate the long lost recipe.
Found among two crates of brandy and three crates of whiskey beneath the explorer’s shack, the Mackinlay Scotch was aged for 15 years before being bottled in 1898. Although the crates were frozen in ice when discovered in 2010, Antarctica’s minus 22 Fahrenheit temperatures did not affect the alcohol inside. Researchers were still able to listen to the Scotch sloshing against the glass.
An article by Reuters writes that distiller Whyte & Mackay, which now owns the Mackinlay brand, was successful in recreating the contents while keeping the bottles sealed and intact. Even New Zealand Prime Minister John Key was denied a taste of the original whiskey when he personally returned the bottles to Antarctic Heritage Trust officials.
During the ceremony the Prime Minister made teasing remarks about the sealed bottles:
“I think we’re all tempted to crack it open and have a little drink ourselves now.”
According to Slash Gear, Shackelton’s Scotch is being returned to it’s original hiding place in an effort to preserve the legacy of the 1898 to 1915 “heroic era of Antarctic exploration”. The shack was base for the 1907 Nimrod expedition which intended, but failed, to reach the South Pole. The event did succeed in setting a record for reaching the furthest southern latitude.
With Whyte & Mackay’s reproduction of the explorer’s rare Scotch available in a limited edition of 50,000 bottles, drinkers can experience a little taste of history.