Mackinlay's Highland malt whisky
is a rare taste
of whisky history.
They have done it! The team at Whyte &
Mackay have recreated the Mackinlay's
whisky which was found in 2007 after it
had spent more than 100 years untouched
by human hands and encased in Antarctic
ice at the South Pole.
How on earth
did Mackinlay's whisky find its way to
the South Pole? Well, it was part of
Ernest Shackleton's supplies in the 1907
- 1909 Shackleton lead South Pole
expedition. Due to treacherous
conditions and the onset of winter
Shackleton's team were forced to
hurriedly abandon their expedition
leaving behind many of their possessions
which were thought to be unnecessary for
the return journey including the cases
of Mackinlay's Rare Old Highland Malt
In 2006 a team from the
New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust who
was restoring Shackleton's hut
discovered several cases of spirits
lodged in the ice under the hut, three
of these cases were found to contain
Mackinlay's Rare Old Highland Malt
Whisky. They could not immediately
dislodge them because they were too
deeply embedded in the ice.
& Mackay, who now own the Mackinlay's
brand, launched a bid to recover the
whisky for samples to test and
potentially use it to relaunch the once
popular Mackinlay's Scotch whisky brand. In 2010 the
New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust
used special cutting tools to carefully remove the
cases of spirits from the ice.
January 2011 three bottles of the
Mackinlay's whisky which accompanied
Ernest Shackleton on his 1907 expedition
were returned to brand owner Whyte &
Mackay for scientific analysis.
The liquid was considered so rare and
valuable that the Antarctic Heritage
Trust and New Zealand authorities
refused to let it travel to Scotland unaccompanied
and in the hold of any plane.
So Whyte & Mackay company owner Dr Vijay
Mallya, the renowned Indian business
mogul, stepped in to personally collect
and fly the bottles back to Scotland
using his private jet.
Mackayís master blender Richard Paterson
spent a painstaking eight weeks marrying
and blending a range of malts to get an
exact replica of this 100 year old rare
taste of whisky history.
according to one independent expert, he
has got the copy exactly right.
Renowned whisky writer Dave Broom is the
only other person in the world to taste
both the original whisky and Whyte &
Mackayís new liquid.
He said: "The Shackleton whisky is not
what I expected at all, and not what
anyone would have expected. Itís so
light, so fresh, so delicate and still
in one piece Ė itís a gorgeous whisky.
"It proves that even way back then so
much care, attention and thought went
"I think the replication is absolutely
bang on. Richard has done a great job as
itís a very tricky whisky to replicate,
because you have this delicacy, subtlety
and the smoke just coming through.
"The sweetness, fragrance and spice, and
the subtle smoke, are all there in the
replica. Iím blown away."
The Shackleton replica will cost £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:
"From start to finish its taken almost
four years to safely extract the whisky
crate from site and then Antarctica,
thaw it in museum conditions, secure
permits and complete scientific analysis
in Scotland. I am delighted that Whyte &
Mackay recognise the hard work and value
of the Trustís conservation mission in
Antarctica by making this very generous
and welcome donation."
Richard Paterson said that matching the
whisky really tested his blending
skills, but it was a true labour of
"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
"I would like to thank the Trust in
particular for their patience, their
expertise and their hard work. They
fully deserve the substantial funds this
special bottle will generate."
The whole replication process has been
documented exclusively for National
Geographic Channel for a documentary due
to air at the end of this year.
Hopefully the Mackinlay's replica will
be a platform relaunch the once
popular Mackinlay's Scotch whisky brand
which many of you probably already assumed is no
more but it is actually still available
today in selected European markets.