Whisky Magazine Issue 116
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Neville Peat tells the tale of Shackleton's Whisky
Reading your biography you have obviously visited the Antarctica on many occasions. Was the idea for this book yours or were you approached by the publisher?
The book was my idea. I already knew of the discovery of the Mackinlay whisky under Shackleton's Antarctic hut in 2006–07 – described by Whyte & Mackay master blender Richard Paterson as “the whisky find of the century” – but the story did not justify a book until Paterson and Whyte & Mackay set out to replicate it. That decision produced a kind of literary ‘closure'. The plot had three parts – The (whisky) Order, The Expedition and the Match (replication). It's all very well to have such an idea but you could only achieve it if you had first-hand experience of the Nimrod hut at Cape Royds, to which I was first introduced in the late 1970s. You also had to have the support of the hut's carers, the Antarctic Heritage Trust at Christchurch, and Antarctica New Zealand. I also needed Whyte & Mackay's cooperation, and another important player was the New Zealand's Foreign Ministry, for which I'd worked in the 1980s. I knew the key contacts across the story.
If the whisky bottles were discovered in 2007, why did it take until 2010 before three bottles were flown back to Scotland for analysis?
Yes, there were delays in getting one of the three cases back to Christchurch, caused mainly by the difficult logistics and the fact New Zealand takes its Antarctic Treaty obligations seriously.
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