Shackleton's Whisky Captures The Festive Spirit - A Gift 114 Years in the Making - 27th September, 2011

Mackinlay's Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky

Shackleton's Whisky Captures The Festive Spirit - A Gift 114 Years in the Making


Painstakingly recreated from the original bottles which lay buried for a century next to Ernest Shackleton’s hut in Antarctica, an exact replica of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt is now available to buy, with 50,000 bottles released for the festive season. 

The gruelling British Antarctic Expedition of 1907-1909 brought Shackleton and his team to the edge of starvation before they eventually fell short of their ultimate goal by less than 100 miles. They left behind several crates of Mackinlay's Rare Old Highland Malt, buried in the icy darkness beneath the hut at Cape Royds.

In February 2007, after a century entombed in thick ice, three crates of Shackleton's whisky were uncovered. And this year, three of the bottles made an historic journey home to the Highlands of Scotland to reach the hands of Richard Paterson, Whyte & Mackay’s master blender. Alongside his expert team, Richard embarked on a new adventure in the Shackleton story – faithfully re-creating this famous whisky.

The bottle and packaging has been faithfully recreated in the style of Shackleton’s original whisky. Bubbles in the glass make each bottle unique, while hand-lettering and labelling techniques from the early 20th century provide whisky lovers with a truly authentic re-creation of the whisky once enjoyed by Shackleton and his intrepid team.

Mackinlay's Rare Old Highland Malt (47.3% ABV) is available from high-end retailers (including Harrods and Selfridges) and whisky specialists (including The Whisky Exchange) priced at £100 for 70cl, with 5% of each sale donated to the Antarctic Heritage Trust.


Richard Paterson, Whyte & Mackay’s Master Blender

“There can’t be a better Christmas gift for those that love history, adventure or whisky. Shackleton himself chose this whisky to warm the hearts of his brave colleagues in harsh, cold conditions. If this year’s winter is anything like last year, then stock up and enjoy a whisky that will help your spirit endure the harshest of weather. It survived a hundred years in Antarctic ice so it should be a safe bet for a UK winter.

“The bottles recovered from the bitter Antarctic ice were carefully thawed and meticulously analysed to ensure our recreation of Shackleton’s whisky perfectly resembled the original malt from 1907. The result is a shimmering light honey colour, with a soft, elegant and refined aroma.

“Detailed nosing reveals delicate notes of crushed apple, pear and fresh pineapple with notes of oak shavings, smoke and hints of buttery vanilla, creamy caramel and nutmeg. The tasting reveals an enduring spirit that has plenty of impact on the palate; a tantalising array of flavours that is both harmonious and exhilarating. This is a real collectors’ item.”

Link to hires images here
Link to hires images here

Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Bottle and Box

Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Bottle in Box

Link to hires images here
Link to hires images here

Richard Paterson with an original bottle of the Mackinlay's from the Shackleton expedition.

A bottle of the original Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt from the Shackleton expedition.

Link to hires images here

Three explorers from the Shackleton expedition.


Timeline of a Gift 114 years in the Making:

1897:  Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt is distilled and casked

1907:  Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt is bottled

1907-1909:  Shackleton’s British Antarctic Expedition

1922:  Ernest Shackleton suffers a fatal heart attack in the early hours of 5 January

1986:  Glen Mhor distillery, home of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt, is demolished, leaving limited stocks

2007: Cases of whisky discovered deep under ice at Cape Royds

2010:  A crate of whisky is removed from the ice by the Antarctic Heritage

2011: The original malt travels to Scotland to be studied by Richard Paterson and recreated

Recreating Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt

After careful analysis, Richard Paterson’s team embarked on the challenge of re-creating this whisky. The first task is to acquire malt from Glen Mhor. The distillery was demolished in 1986, but limited stocks are combined with malt from Dalmore Distillery, a close neighbour of Glen Mhor, to provide the base of the recreation.

To add the floral flavours, Speyside malts such as Longmorn, Benriach, Glenfarclas, Mannochmore, Tamnavulin and Glen Rothes are selected and combined with Highland whiskies from Balblair and Pulteney, along with a hint of The Dalmore to complete this puzzle. A masterful mix of malts varying in age from eight to 30 years – all married in the finest sherry butts.


Selfridges; Harrods; The Whisky Exchange; Vintage House; Milroy’s of Soho; Berry Brothers & Rudd; The Whisky Shop; Nickolls & Perks; The Wine Chambers; Edencroft Fine Wines; Chester Whisky & Liqueurs; Anglia Wine Merchants; Whisky Online; The Wright Wine Company.

Royal Mile Whiskies; Aberdeen Whisky Shop; Strachan's of Deeside; Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre; Robbies Drams; Barrons of Dyce.


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