19 Jan 2011

Shackleton's whisky stands up to test of time

9:39 pm on 19 January 2011

Bottles of whisky encased in Antarctic ice for more than 100 years have been found to be in good condition after being returned to Scotland from New Zealand in a private jet.

The three bottles were slowly thawed at the Canterbury Museum in New Zealand and opened in August last year.

Eleven bottles of Mackinlay brand whisky dating from 1896, made by the Whyte & MacKay company, were discovered at the hut of Sir Ernest Shackleton in 2006.

The Shackleton expedition was unsuccessful and the base and the whisky were abandoned in 1907.

On Tuesday, Whyte & MacKay's master blender Richard Patterson drew out a sample by syringe and judged the whisky only by smell, as no one has yet been allowed to taste it.

"My initial reaction is very, very interesting, but I must wait and see. It's that lovely rich, golden colour.

"This is a whisky that's been kept stable for these number of years and I think when Sir Ernest Shackleton tasted this it was a great honour for him, as it is an honour for me too."

The original recipe for the blend no longer exists, but distillers hope they can replicate it.