Shackleton’s Whisky returns home after a century on ice

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s abortive attempt to reach the South Pole in 1908 is one of the most remarkable stories of plucky British exploration.


Dealing with freezing conditions and years away from home with pre-World War One equipment must have been a daunting prospect, so it is good to see he fortified his team by bringing along some booze.

A wooden case of Mackinlay’s Whisky was recently found buried under the arctic hut Shackleton built as a shelter. The crate was frozen solid into the ice, but the Whisky was still liquid in the bottles.

The whisky is thought to have been bottled 1896 or 1897, making it among the oldest in the world, and had to be painstakingly thawed in laboratory conditions.

Whyte and Mackay’s owner, Vijay Mallya, personally collected the bottles which have been handed over to the distiller’s master blender, Richard Paterson, for analysis. He said:

“Never in the history of our industry have we had a century-old bottle of whisky stored in a natural fridge and subjected to some of the harshest conditions on this planet,” he said.

“It is an absolute honour to be able to use my experience to analyse this amazing spirit.”

For the next six weeks, the whisky will be analysed, nosed and tasted in full laboratory conditions.