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Issue 86 - The case of Shackleton's Whisky

Whisky Magazine Issue 86
February 2010


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The case of Shackleton's Whisky

Emily Stone looks at the exciting Antarctic find that has the whisky world buzzing.

Antarctica is not a place to go to ill-prepared. Sir Ernest Shackleton knew this better than anyone. So he carefully planned the provisions for his 1907-09 expedition to reach the South Pole, knowing he'd be living 13 months on the inhospitable continent.

Most of that time was spent at his base camp on a spit of black volcanic rock called Cape Royds. The crew constructed a wooden hut there, with the smoldering Mount Erebus volcano in the background and a colony of Adelie penguins as their only neighbours.

Given the arduous nature of the trip, it's no surprise that Shackleton, a consummate planner, brought 25 cases of 10 Years Old blended Scotch whisky on the expedition.

What is surprising is that after his failed attempt at the Pole, he left three of those cases behind. A team of New Zealand conservators discovered two of the wooden Charles Mackinlay & Co. crates four years ago underneath the hut when they cleared out a century's worth of ice that had accumulated there. The crates were frozen to the porous rock and couldn't be removed safely at the time. They returned in February and were surprised to find three crates of whisky along with one Mackinlay crate of brandy and A another brandy crate labeled Hunter Valley Distillery Limited Allandale.

The condition of the whisky as well as its ultimate fate is unknown. The fragile crates haven't been opened yet, but conservators said they could hear the sound of sloshing liquid sloshing inside. A member of the New Zealand crew...

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