Filed under: Spirits
A crate of Scotch whisky that was trapped in Antarctic ice for a century was finally opened August 13. It is perhaps the most sought after dram in the world right now.
But, according to officials of Whyte and Mackay, would-be bidders and tasters will be left wanting and dry-mouthed. Only the master blenders [and we're guessing top management] will be tasting it in order to try and replicate the recipe using today's whiskies.
The crate, recovered from the Antarctic hut of renowned explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton after it was found there in 2006, has been thawed very slowly in recent weeks at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch on New Zealand's South Island.
The crate was painstakingly opened to reveal 11 bottles of Mackinlay's Scotch whisky, wrapped in paper and straw to protect them from the rigors of a rough trip to Antarctica for Shackleton's 1907 Nimrod expedition.
The crate was frozen solid when it was retrieved earlier this year. Antarctica's minus 22 Fahrenheit (-30 Celsius) temperature was not cold enough to freeze the liquor, dating from 1896 or 1897.
Once the whiskey samples have been extracted and sent to Whyte and Mackay, which purchased Mackinlay's distillery many years ago, the 11 bottles will be returned to Shackleton's hut at Cape Royds on Ross Island, near Antarctica's McMurdo Sound.
The whisky was labeled as a highland malt and the label also referred to Shackleton's ship Endurance, which he used in a 1914 expedition, and not the Nimrod on which he sailed in 1907.
It isn't known if the whisky is a single-malt or a blended malt. That will be part of the task of the chemists and blenders at Whyte and Mackay, which are believed to be drawing on experts outside the company's own talent. The hope is that the company will be able to replicate the taste for a special issue whisky expression in the future.