Review: MacKinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky “Shackleton”
In 1907 Ernest Shackleton was setting off on his “Nimrod” expedition to the South Pole. Along for the ride: 25 cases of whisky from the Glen Mhor Distillery, to keep the spirits of the sailors up.
Shackleton didn’t quite make it to the Pole on this trip, and he had to leave behind some of the whisky too, left in his expedition hut. It’s been sitting there ever since, part of an international treaty… until 2010, when it was decided that some of the whisky would be returned to civilization.
To date, only a handful of people have tasted the recovered spirit, including our friend Richard “The Nose” Paterson, who endeavored to re-create the Shackleton whisky for modern drinkers, trying to copy it as closely as possible by using existing whisky stocks from numerous distilleries (including what remains of Glen Mohr, destroyed in 1986), with ages ranging from 8 to 30 years old.
The results are a bit like stepping back into time, 100 years gone. They drank pretty well back then, it seems. The “Shackleton,” as it’s known (aka “The Discovery” bottling), is surprisingly delicate for an era when heavily peated bruisers were the norm. The nose balances peat, coal smoke, and wood with fruit — citrus and banana. On the palate, the smoke nearly disappears, with much more fruit character, nougat, and straw notes. The smoke returns in the finish: Warming and moderated.
Bottled at 94.6 proof (just like the original), it is presented in a replica bottle with replica design, right down to the label. Definitely a conversation piece — and a worthy one.