After a day of dodging icebergs, an Antarctic explorer could be excused for warming up with a glass of scotch (hold the rocks, please). Mackinlay’s was the drink of choice for Sir Ernest Shackleton during his famed expedition at the turn of the 20th century.
Five crates of Mackinlay’s and two cases of brandy were found in 2006, buried in the ice beneath the hut at McMurdo Sound where Shackleton and his crew wintered during the Nimrod expedition. After convincing the 12 Antarctic Treaty nations to allow researchers to drill through the ice, the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust extracted one case in May. It spent several weeks defrosting at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch before it was cracked open last week to reveal 11 bottles wrapped in paper and cushioned by straw. (One bottle was missing, and another was half-full, suggesting one of the explorers helped himself.)
Richard Paterson, a master scotch maker at Whyte and Mackay of Glasgow (which owns the modern-day Charles Mackinlay & Co.) is impatiently awaiting his bottle. Paterson, who doesn’t know whether to expect a single or double malt, is assigned the task of recreating it to sell. But he can hardly wait to extract a few drops and bury his nose in the very well-aged whisky.