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 –