SHACKLETON’S LOST WHISKY
The story of the spirited explorers once lost hundred-year-old whisky
There is nothing quite like the feeling of finding something valuable that you had previously considered lost, is there? We have all panicked and turned our homes upside down in search for that family heirloom or, for that loose change that slipped out of your pocket.
But this story is not one of loose change or priceless heirlooms. This, for us Scots, is about something much, much more valuable. Whisky.
In the winter of 2007, a team from the New Zealand Antartic Heritage Trust were trying to restore Shackleton’s old hut in the Antarctic. While they were hard at work, in the harsh, unforgiving climate, they found something. Something that none of them would ever have expected to find. The team had accidentally discovered five cases of hundred-year-old McKinelay whisky, belonging to the famed adventurer Shackleton himself. The strange thing was, these cases of whisky were buried apart from the other food and drink rations. So, it is a popular belief that Shackleton was saving them for a celebration. But, why would he leave them behind? Again, it is assumed that in 1909, when Shackleton and his crew were attempting to reach the South Pole, a harsh storm interrupted their challenging, courageous quest. Forcing them to abandon their celebratory whisky, and like loose change, it was thought to be lost for good.
To find the actual whisky of one of the most famous explorers and real man’s man is one thing, to taste it? A whole other experience. Luckily, and remarkably, this was made possible via extracting the whisky. Which, was no easy task. As inevitably, ice had got into the cases, leaving some bottles broken. There was worry that some of the corks could have come into contact with the alcohol, which would have caused it to degenerate. Whyte & MacKay, who bought the Mackinlay, managed to retrieve a sample of the whisky with a syringe and with that the hundred-year-old sample, they were able to find out the ingredients of Shackleton’s chosen whisky and, replicate it.
Unsurprisingly, Whyte & Mackay had a massive
wave of publicity as many Shackleton fans, and Whisky fans eagerly anticipated the release of the whisky. The master blender of the distillery described the find as “a gift from the heavens”.
Only a few people got to taste the whisky as it was only re-released as a very-limited-edition. Which left many asking the question “What did it taste like?” Well, “Cold.” Yes, that was one of the official descriptions of the important, hundred-year-old spirit of a famed adventurer.
Did you know that Ernest Shackleton once lived in one of the townhouses that now makes up Channings Hotel? We have kept some of the original decors and have memorabilia around the hotel.
You can stay in his old townhouse by booking one of our Shackleton Suites