Shackleton Whisky

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Promotional photo of Shackleton Whisky

Shackleton Whisky is a brand of whisky distilled and sold by Scottish distillery Whyte & Mackay as part of their Mackinlay whisky label. It is intended to honor explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and was created from a blend carried by Shackleton during his early Antarctic expedition.

Nimrod Expedition

Photograph of Jameson Adams, Frank Wild, and Eric Marshall (from left to right) at their farthest South latitude, 88°23'S during the Nimrod Expedition. This picture was taken by Ernest Shackleton

On 1 January 1908, Sir Ernest Shackleton departed New Zealand in his ship Nimrod, headed for Antarctica in an attempt to find a route to the South Pole. Although the expedition accomplished many feats of scientific and geographic interest, the team ultimately failed to reach the pole.

In similar fashion to other polar expeditions of the day, Shackleton ordered 25 cases of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky, as well as other alcoholic spirits, to help maintain crew morale during the long, arduous journey. Some of these were left behind, along with other supplies that weren't needed for the return journey home, when the team left Antarctica in 1909.

Modern Discovery

In 2007, a century after the Nimrod expedition, three cases of the perfectly preserved whisky were discovered along with two cases of brandy, frozen into the ice beneath Shackleton’s base camp at Cape Royds. The recovered bottles were delivered to the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust where scientists extracted some of the alcohol to conduct scientific tests. A small amount was made available to the Master Distiller of Whyte & Mackay and the rest has been kept in by the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust for preservation and further study in accordance with the Antarctic Treaty.

Recreation of recipe

Richard Paterson, the lord master blender at Whyte & Mackay, carefully studied the taste and chemical profile of the preserved whisky and crafted a recipe to create a whisky with a similar flavor. The first two versions of this recipe, released in 2013 and 2017, were branded as "Mackinlay's Rare Old Highland Malts" and sold for over £100 per bottle.

The third edition was branded as "Shackleton Blended Malt Scotch Whisky." This edition was much more accessible to the general public, being priced at £40 per bottle. The third edition is easily recognizable by its distinctive blue box with a map of Antarctica as well as detailed history of the whisky blend and Shackleton's expedition.

Reception by Westarctican citizens

The Countess of Benton celebrating her retirement with a bottle of Shackleton Whisky

Several of Westarctica's citizens have purchased bottles of Shackleton Whisky to celebrate the storied career of Ernest Shackleton as well as enjoy a spirit with a connection to Antarctica. In 2018, Prince-Consort Dinny purchased two bottles for Grand Duke Travis for his 38th birthday, and a month later, the Countess of Benton purchased a bottle for her retirement party.

The whisky was generally considered too "peaty" for the royal palate. Grand Duke Travis consumed his first taste by mixing the whisky in an Old Fashioned cocktail, and then led his birthday revelers in a taking a group shot. After the first drink, nobody else would have a second one, aside from the Grand Duke, who did so out of loyalty to Ernest Shackleton, who once stated: "If I had not some strength of will I would make a first class drunkard."

The Countess of Benton and her sisters all greatly disdained the taste, publicly referring to it as "rotgut." Despite this, the Countess has stated that she occasionally drinks a shot of the whisky out of loyalty to the Grand Duke.

See also

External links