Antarctic (London Evening Standard)
They say whisky matures with age…but leaving it embedded in the Antarctic ice
for almost 100 years may be going a bit far.
Two cases of MacKinlay’s Rare Old
Whisky that Ernest Shackleton’s team abandoned on their failed 1908 expedition
to the South Pole have been uncovered intact.
The pine cases were discovered by a
conservation team excavating ice from beneath the hut where Shackleton and his
men sheltered from the long, savage winter. They showed almost no damage from
the ice and the company’s stag’s head logo is clearly visible.
Shackleton built the hut in January
1908 to provide a base for his attempt to become the first person to reach the
South Pole. He and his 14 crew members spent nine months in the hut as
temperatures plunged to -58F (-50C).
They were sustained by supplies
which included 1,600lb of Yorkshire ham, 100lb
of Colman’s mustard, hundreds of packs of Huntley & Palmers biscuits and
copious tins of Lyle’s Golden Syrup.
As for the whisky, MacKinlay’s was
a family distilling company based in Leith, Edinburgh. When Shackleton approached
MacKinlay’s in 1907, it readily agreed to act as the expedition’s official
whisky supplier, and the firm – now part of distillers Whyte and Mackay – still
has the letter from Shackleton confirming the donation.
MacKinlay’s provided 12 cases, and
empty bottles have previously been found on Shackleton’s desk at Cape Royds
– but the new find is the first untouched alcohol to be discovered.
Shackleton and three companions set
off for the Pole when spring arrived in late October. After an epic four-month
trek, they fell just 98 miles short of their goal.
They left the Cape Royds
hut on March 3, 1909, leaving behind surplus supplies as they rushed to get away
before the winter ice closed around their ship.