Much has been written about Ernest Shackleton the British Explorer and his exploits into the Antarctic, his voyage on the Endurance in 1914 (his last trip South), the desperation of the situation, the courage of the Endurance Crew, and the absolute heroism and leadership of Shackleton himself. He will remain an inspiration for generations to come. Yet it was a failed expedition to the same area just seven years earlier in 1907 that brought Shackleton’s name back into modern headlines. The discovery of cases of Whisky frozen in the ice beneath a base expedition hut, left behind as Shackleton’s party retreated, found more than one hundred years later. Go here, and here, for the full story on the discovery of the whisky and the painstaking removal and replication that brought us to this point: Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt, tasting the replica Shackleton Whisky.
Unfortunately nobody will be drinking the actual century old spirit, only two people have tasted it, Whyte & Mackay Master Distiller, James Paterson and renowned whisky writer Dave Broom. Their impressions and tasting notes can be found here. What we are getting though is a window into the past, a real taste of history, the chosen drink of men who were our Father’s Grandfathers, as both Paterson and Broom have declared the Replica Whisky “Bang on”.
For effect Whyte & Mackay packaged the replica whiskey in a wooden crate complete with straw packing, leaving one to imagine how it might have been stored as it sat in the hold of a creaking wooden ship. Also supplied is an old style cork stopper, to replace the modern factory stopper once opened, it’s the kind of cork that you might use your teeth to yank it from the bottle. Effective marketing for sure though probably unnecessary as most of the 50,000 bottles allocated will be bought up and squirreled away in record time.
First impressions: Color is very light, Champagne light, straw and gold. On the nose, raisins, lemons and smoke. The smoke is not a typical hardwood based aroma but softer, almost damp, last nights fires hanging on a morning mist. Taste, honey right at the front, lots of citrus and a hint of tobacco. Finishes nicely, cinnamon and more of that subtle smoke. A delightful drink.
It has to be said, if this whisky truly represents the spirits imbibed by the pioneers of a Century gone, then they were certainly living large during those times they were not in peril. This is a luxurious drink. Paterson created the blend from several aged Malts including from Glen Mhor (the original Mackinlay Distiller and now closed) and Dalmore as well as others. A hearty 47.3% abv, expect to pay between $150-200 if you can find it.