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Issue 96 - The Age of Ice

Whisky Magazine Issue 96
June 2011


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The Age of Ice

Dave Broom gets his hands on liquid history for a tasting exclusive

It was a new one on me. Richard Paterson seemed almost nervous, or certainly less like his usual ebullient self. The pale straw liquid dropped into the glasses and instead of his usual informed introduction, he just sat back. ”Let's have a look,” he said quietly. It was the first of many surprises. Not just Paterson's demeanour but the liquid itself - for starters, the colour was extraordinarily light. There was no smoke on the nose. Where was the weight and power that was expected? “I know,” he said, the smile returning. “Amazing isn't it?”
We've been monitoring this story from the moment when, in 2007, three cases of whisky were discovered underneath the Antarctic hut which was base for Ernest Shackleton's 1907 attempt on the South Pole. They contained the last remaining stock of the 25 cases which had been provided to the expedition by Edinburgh-based blender and broker Chas. Mackinlay (now owned by W&M). Though Shackleton failed to be the first man to reach the South Pole he managed to get close, when bad weather forced him to turn back he got his whole team home safely, hurriedly abandoning the hut with supplies, most of their clothes and the whisky.
The whisky was forgotten, almost like Shackleton himself. There is something very British about the manner in which the ill-prepared Robert Scott is considered the hero of the Antarctic while Irish-born Shackleton who lived to tell the tale has, until recently, been little more than a footnote.
Yet here is a...

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