Shackleton’s Lost Whisky

Trapped for over a century in antarctic ice

Every whisky is an adventure, but this one is more than most.

In early 2007 while restoring Ernest Shackleton’s hut in Antarctica, three cases of rare old Highland malt whisky, blended and bottled by Chas. Mackinlay & Co. were found frozen in the ice. The Vancouver Club is pleased to offer members a rare taste of Whyte & McKay’s version of Shackleton’s very own whisky.

Shackleton took three cases of the rare scotch on his first trip to Antarctic in 1907 in preparation for The Nimrod Expedition. His main target on this journey, among a range of geographical and scientific objectives, was to be first to the South Pole. Shackleton wouldn’t make it there until 17 January 1912: a journey that would be his last.

The Nimrod Expedition was a race against starvation, on half-rations for much of the way. The team didn’t bring any fresh fruit or vegetables, but did manage to haul in 25 cases of whisky for the journey. Antarctic explorers were a hardy lot, and used the whisky to insulate themselves against the bone chilling cold.

Chief chemists at Whyte & Mackay examined the rare bottles in order to determine where it was distilled and whether it was a true single malt or a blended whisky. What they found were sherry casks made of American white oak, used by Glen Mhor, a distillery now out of business, formerly owned by Mackinlay in the late 19th century. They deduced the water was from Loch Ness, and even found that the peat used to smoke the barley came from the remote Orkney Islands.

After carefully reconstructing every nuance and note, Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt is a meticulous re-creation of the original malt whisky. The nose reveals hints of apple, pear and fresh pineapple. Notes of oak shavings that release hints of buttery vanilla, creamy caramel and nutmeg. On the tongue, 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. 

This is a limited release of only 72 cases, 2 of which are available in our enoteca. Join us for a wee dram, won’t you?