How far would you go for a drink? To the kitchen? To the bar up the street? Try Antarctica, that’s how far distillers Whyte and Mackay are willing to go. The beverage company has asked a excavation team to drill through Antarctica’s ice for two crates of McKinlay and Co. Scotch whiskey that were shipped there by British polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton as part of his abandoned 1909 expedition.
The crates, encased in ice, were first found three years ago buried under a hut built and used during Shackleton’s unsuccessful South Pole expedition between 1907 and 1909.
The excavation team, the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust, plans to use special cutting tools to remove the crates from the ice. The crates and bottles are expected to undergo conservation work in New Zealand before being returned to the remote hut at Cape Royds, which the trust is trying to restore to the same condition as when Shackleton’s team left it.
Whyte & Mackay has asked for a sample of the 100-year-old scotch for a series of tests that could decide whether to relaunch the now-defunct Scotch. Richard Paterson, Whyte & Mackay’s master blender, said the Shackleton expedition’s whiskey could still be drinkable and taste exactly as it did 100 years ago.
If he can get a sample, Paterson intends to replicate the old Scotch and put McKinlay whiskey back on sale.
“I really hope we can get some back here,” he was quoted as telling London’s Telegraph newspaper. “It’s been laying there lonely and neglected. It should come back to Scotland where it was born.
“Even if most of the bottles have to remain in Antarctica for historic reasons, it would be good if we could get a couple,” Paterson said.