Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt (Shackleton) 47.3%

We’ve been hearing about it for the last four years since it was discovered in the Antarctic, and now we can finally get to taste it, well, the next best thing at least.

Richard Paterson, Whyte & Mackay’s master blender spent a painstaking eight weeks analysing the Shackleton whisky, marrying together a range of malts to create an exact replica of the 100 year old Mackinlay’s malt.

shackleton-packaging-smallIt’s a beautiful pale gold straw colour, and there’s an instant pleasant strength in the nose. It starts slightly dry and dusty, but then there’s a good whack of lime and chocolate which is closely followed by a whiff of wild bergamot marshmallows. There’s an incredible freshness like crushed nettles and sliced lemon. Fresh pineapple floats around the edges, sweet lemonade, and warm lemon meringue pie become prominent amongst soft heavy notes of buttery toffee and caramelised nuts, and a nice touch of hot sawdust at the end.

The palate is silky smooth, and not what I expected from something that’s above average strength. It’s got a creamy sweetness with spicy wood smoke, chocolate and a touch of salt. The finish has sharp minerality, and is also warm and woody with the crushed nettles from the nose making a subtle appearance.

At 47.3% it gives you a lot of wiggle room and at first it’s quite tight and doesn’t want to come out to play – which make me think that it really must be like its father, because if I’d been asleep for 100 years I would need a bit of time to wake up!

When it does finally pull back the covers it shows lovely complexity and depth. The finish was a little short, but this is well compensated for by a great depth of flavour, and is an overall crackingly fresh and vibrant dram.

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