100 YO Antarctic whisky undergoes tests

One hundred-year old whiskies that belonged to Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton have been sent to a Whyte & Mackay distillery for testing.

The whiskies were among five boxes marked Mackinlay and Co – a Whyte & Mackay distillery - found last year entombed in ice in a hut on Antarctica.

Three bottles have been flown by private jet to Whyte & Mackay’s Invergordon distillery where they will be analysed by master blender Richard Paterson.

For six weeks under laboratory conditions Paterson will nose, taste and ‘deconstruct’ the whiskies, before reporting back to the Antarctic Heritage Trust.

Paterson will measure the malt content, peat levels, toxins, metals, along with establishing the source and quality of the barley and determining the strength and age.

He said: “Whiskies back then - a harder age - were all quite heavy and peaty as that was the style.”

Once the analysis is complete, the bottles will be transported back to New Zealand in readiness for their eventual return to Shackleton’s hut on Antarctica.

Responding to calls for the whisky to be replicated and brought to market, Whyte & Mackay said: “We have no plans to do so at the moment and if we did it would be in partnership with the trust.

“We need to understand what’s in the bottles first before deciding on any course of action, and that course of action will be determined by all the relevant stakeholders."