Shackleton’s Whisky

Richard Paterson

Last year there was an astonishing discovery in Antarctica, just outside of what was once Ernest Shackleton’s hut. The discovery was several cases of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt whisky, which had been left behind after a failed attempt to reach the South Pole between 1907 and 1909.

Whyte and Mackay, who own the Mackinlay’s brand, leapt at the incredible opportunity to try and recreate a whisky from a bygone era, under the lead of their inimitable Master Blender, Richard Paterson.

“It’s a beautiful colour. It’s that lovely rich golden colour and what’s more important at this early stage, it’s beautifully clear.” Richard describes the whisky, adding: “It’s telling you that it’s not contaminated — that’s very important.” 

Shackleton's Whisky

The whisky was flown to Scotland aboard the private jet of Whyte and Mackay’s owner, Dr Vijay Mallya. Upon arrival, Richard Paterson carefully exhumed tiny amounts of the contents using a syringe, in order to nose and taste them. This was a painstaking task, but happily the liquid in the bottle was “a truly awesome whisky”, which is a very lucky coincidence given the time and effort, not to mention money, that went into this endeavour.

The result of all this is a faithful reproduction of the very bottle of Mackinlay’s whisky that Shackleton took with him on his expedition. It was a blended whisky which survived more than a century of Arctic conditions, and to recreate it, Paterson and his team used malts from Speyside, the Islands, and the Highlands, including a 1983 Glen Mhor (a distillery that closed that same year).

The whisky, which will go on sale at the end of the month with an RRP of £100, is presented in a replica bottle and rustic-looking wooden case, just as Shackleton left it. To further enhance the product, it is a limited release of 50,000 bottles, and £5 from every bottle sold will be donated to the Antarctic Heritage Trust.

We have yet to taste this extraordinary whisky, so please have a read of the official tasting notes…

Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt


Shackleton's Whisky

Colour – Light honey, straw gold with shimmering highlights.

Nose – Soft, elegant & refined. Delicate aromas of crushed apple, pear and fresh pineapple arouse the senses. The spirit is exciting and vibrant with attractive notes of oak shavings that release hints of buttery vanilla, creamy caramel and nutmeg. A whisper of marmalade, cinnamon and even a tease of smoke, ginger and muscovado sugar completes this spectrum of delight.

Taste – With a generous strength of 47.3% this gives the spirit plenty of impact on the palate but in a mild warming manner. Harmonious and exhilarating. Whispers of gentle bonfire smoke slowly give way to spicy rich toffee, treacle and pecan nuts. These enticing flavours linger lovingly on the palate but are soon combined by a sensual, complex array of creme brulee, orange rind and freshly baked bread. It is a remarkable tapestry of tantalising taste sensations which truly rewards the palate.

Click here to order a bottle of Shackleton’s Whisky.

– The Chaps at Master of Malt –

Categories : News, Scotch Whisky, Whisky

7 comments on “Shackleton’s Whisky”

  1. Now, this may be nonsense, but I heard a story that one of the reasons Vijay Mallya got personally involved was that the New Zealand Government wouldn’t let the ancient whisky be flown out on a commercial flight… so he stepped in and offered his private jet.

    It’s good to be the king.

  2. Looking good! I especially like the charity part. The blend with wooden case may be a bit expensive, but its so darn good looking that my inner whisky geek is all tingly!

    Really looking forward to this! I take it you will stock this as soon as it becomes available?

    @Jason: I read that same thing, I believe on an official report. It is indeed good to be king!

  3. Yep – entirely true (if slightly unbelievable!).

    Yes, we’ll have it in stock as soon as it’s released (w/c 28th March is the latest news).

  4. Paul says:

    Having visited as well his ship, grave and several of the places he visited in Antartica this is a must for me, maybe, why maybe, I generally don’t like blends, maybe, just for the collection value of it. Hope there will be a taster of it available!

  5. Latest update – whisky will be released next week (w/c 4th April) due to a hold-up on the boxes caused by the international shipping repercussions of the Japanese Earthquake / Tsunami.

  6. nick says:

    Shacklton was an ispiration to me so i decided last year i would try to get to like whiskey. Having tried many in the whiskey shop in oban whilst on holiday i finally cracked it linkwood 12yr old was acceptable to my pallet, since then i have tried many, still dont like any peaty ones, so i bought a shackltons the lady in the shop said this is a good investment i told her it wouldnt make it home. it is awesome. Not just because i convinced myself to like it, its just lush!!, do yourselves a favour and try it. i will by 2 more bottles 1 to drink and one to keep.

  7. T.Rhuddlan says:

    I tried this on 24th May in the Luib Hotel near Crianlarich. There are 123 whiskies to choose from. This, however would leave you not wanting to try the others.
    It is a whisky that most other whiskies can be judged by .
    It is golden in colour and in taste. Warming all the way down without burning. Superb on its own or with a minute splash of water.
    Shackleton would have only wanted to add a tiny piece of ice.

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