If you had a chance to keep up on all matters whisky, you know that bottles belonging to the famed Artic explorer Ernest Shackleton were discovered in 2006 by members of the Antarctic Heritage Trust while clearing out over a century’s worth of ice from under Shackleton's hut.
The three aged crates that they found were carefully transported back to New Zealand and slowly thawed under controlled laboratory conditions. Additional staff research discovered that the original distillery which crafted the whisky was now owned by Whyte & Mackay of Glasgow, Scotland.
Once restored to room temperature, Dr Vijay Mallya. the present owner of Whyte & Mackay, sent his private plane and Master Blender Richard Paterson (known in the profession as “The Nose”) to escort three precious bottles back to the home distillery in Scotland.
After carefully sampling the treasured whisky, Paterson and his staff have created “an exact replica” of the original. Unlike the standard heavy and rather peaty late century whisky favored by the Victorians, they found that Shackleton’s whisky was accented by the delicate aroma of crushed apples, pears and fresh pineapples with a gentle trace of marmalade, cinnamon and a whisper of smoke, ginger and muscovado sugar.
Based on Paterson’s success, Whyte & Mackay is now planning to market 50,000 bottles of the recrafted whisky in two to eight weeks starting first in the United Kingdom according to Rob Bruce, the firm’s head of global public relations. After that release Shackleton’s whisky will then be available to the rest of Europe, the United States, Australia and finally New Zealand.
Due to rare nature of the whisky, each bottle is expected to cost about £100 or $160 with 5% of the purchase price supporting the Antarctic Heritage Trust who are responsible for conserving Shackleton’s hut, among other polar restoration duties. The New Zealand nonprofit organization is hoping to receive as a result over £250,000 or $400,000 plus from the offering.
Shackleton was a remarkable person, a leader who never sacrificed his men for the goal of glory or gold. Though famous now, during his lifetime he struggled to find the funding for his polar expeditions and to purchase the proper equipment for his team. He must be smiling that the sale of his recreated abandoned whisky will now be protecting the beauty of the Artic that he dedicated his life to documenting and to sharing with others.
What a legacy – courage, style, flare…and now great whisky. Well done!
Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2011