Whisky fans can find out what the rare whisky which was discovered beneath the Antarctic hut of explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton tastes like, now that it has has been painstakingly recreated after spending more than 100 years buried in the ice.
Three cases of Mackinlay’s whisky and two cases of brandy were discovered in 2007, having been left behind by Shackleton during the unsuccessful attempt to reach the South Pole in 1909.
One case of whisky was removed and slowly thawed so as to preserve the delicate bottles and liquid in them as much as possible. Samples were then taken and analysed at by brand owner Whyte and Mackay at the company’s Invergordon distillery.
Master blender Richard Paterson spent eight weeks blending a range of malts to create the exact replica of the 100-year-old Mackinlay’s liquid.
The once-in-a-life-time opportunity was a labour of love for Paterson, who has spent more than 40 years with Whyte and Mackay.
He said: “It was a real privilege getting to handle, nose and taste such a rare and beautiful bottle of whisky. The quality, purity and taste of this 100-year-old spirit was amazing. The biggest surprise was the light flavour and the clear, almost vibrant colour of the liquid. I hope I have done our forefathers and Ernest Shackleton proud with the replica.”
Renowned whisky writer Dave Broom, the only other person in the world to taste both the original and the replica, was surprised by the original and the obvious care and attention which had gone into producing it.
He said: “The Shackleton whisky is not what I expected at all, and not what anyone would have expected. It’s so light, so fresh, so delicate and still in one piece – it’s a gorgeous whisky.”
He said that the replica was “absolutely bang on.”
Adding: “The sweetness, fragrance and spice, and the subtle smoke, are all there in the replica. I’m blown away.”
The Shackleton replica will cost around £100, with 5% from every sale being donated back to the Antarctic Heritage Trust, the New Zealand charity responsible for finding and uncovering the original whisky. If all 50,000 bottles sell out the Trust will receive £250,000.
Trust chief executive Nigel Watson said: “I am delighted that Whyte & Mackay recognise the hard work and value of the Trust’s conservation mission in Antarctica by making this very generous and welcome donation.”
The replication process has been exclusively filmed for a documentary to be shown on the National Geographic Channel later this year.