A lot has been written about Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky (Shackleton’s Whisky) since it was found in Antarctica in February 2007 – and why not? This was one of (if not the) biggest whisky discoveries in history. Almost 100 years had passed since Ernest Shackleton had safely stored his whisky in the ice and here it was in the 21st Century intact and in seemingly great condition. It would be almost 3 years from discovery that the whisky would finally leave its icy resting place and head to Canterbury in New Zealand for analysis. Following a careful thawing process the museum conservators were able to conduct analysis on the packaging, labels and bottles; bottles that contain a Highland Malt Whisky from 1907!
Early 2011 saw three bottles leave New Zealand to make their way home to Scotland (via private plane – such is the rarity of the bottles!). Upon arrival at Whyte & Mackay’s Invergordon Spirit Laboratory Richard Patterson (Master Blender) and his team spent weeks nosing, tasting and deconstructing the whisky so that they could begin the staggering process of reconstructing it for the public to taste!
What we have here really is a piece of history. This whisky – The Journey Edition (following the previously released Discovery Edition) is a fabulous recreation. The images in this post do some justice to the time taken, not just to recreate the whisky, but to recreate the experience of the whisky – the bottle is wrapped in straw like the originals, the bottle is deliberately pitted with air bubbles and imperfections, it is bottled at 47.3% replicating the spirit Shackleton carried, the label is created using early 20th Century labelling techniques and all this detail before we even talk about the spirit! Add to this the fact that the packaging is designed to mirror the cartons the whisky was carried from Antarctica to New Zealand in, and that there is a wallet of historical information, letters, maps and a megative strip inside – what you are buying here is more than a whisky, you are buying a experience. It really is one of the best pieces of packaging we have seen – it is fabulous!
That brings us nicely onto the whisky itself. Obviously we have never and will never taste the original… but I know enough to trust Richard’s judgement and it is against this backdrop (and the recent 15cm of snow that fell in Birmingham – how Shackleton are we?!) that we exitedly delved into this whisky:
Nose: Very sweet and chocolaty with initial creamy white chocolate fading into Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. Hints of gooseberry and tinned pear with some citrus notes – this whisky has a really gentle floral scent that is garnished with a touch of fresh mint leaves
Palate: Very earthy, almost grassy and and quite dry. It then turned to become very nutty and fruity with apricots and raisins becoming the dominant flavours (if you have ever drank Cain’s raisin beer then that is the note we are experiencing).
Finish: Long, dry and maybe a touch bitter. Full of dried spice and aniseed.
As a package we throughly recommend this whisky – it’s beautifully put together. The whisky itself is well worth experiencing; we found it perhaps a touch subtle in some areas but remember this is a recreation of a 1907 spirit and we can recognise the quality of the liquid and the skill that has gone into recreating it; and to have had this in 1907 must have been amazing! This is more than a great story; it is a wonderful piece of history and we look forward to seeing what is involved in the next chapter of the journey!
[Do feel free to click on the images to make them larger so that you really can appreciate the detail of this package]