Few things are exciting as a new finding, and our bar shelves are a reflection of our passion.
That said, we do love other things: we love adventures,travels, and photography.
It was thru this passions that a good friend of mine, and my photography mentor, NY based artist Adam Marelli made me aware of Captain Ernest Shackelton and his adventures / dis-adventures regarding the exploration of the south pole, documented by the photographer Frank Hurley.
Being mostly famous for his trips south and the big journey that he undertook to save the lives of his men after a shipwreck into the ices, his name enter our bar collection thanks for it’s taste on whiskeys: Several, mostly intact, cases of whisky and brandy left behind into his south pole post in 1909 were recovered in 2010, for analysis by a distilling company. A revival of the vintage (and since lost) formula for the particular brands found has been offered for sale, and we couldn’t miss it.
Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt was originally distilled at Glen Mhor distillery in Inverness, Scotland. It was a whisky much enjoyed throughout the late 19th century, and was personally selected by Ernest Shackleton to help sustain his British Antarctic Expedition of 1907.
The original bottles were labelled the ‘Endurance expedition’, but the expedition actually sailed south onboard the Nimrod. Having set up a base camp at Cape Royds, Shackleton and his men ultimately failed to reach the South Pole, but they did return safely, and sailed for home in March 1909, leaving three crates of the malt buried in the ice.
His wife,Emily, later recorded: “The only comment he made to me about not reaching the Pole was ‘a live donkey is better than a dead lion, isn’t it?’
In 2007, whilst carrying out conservation work on the Shackleton’s expedition hut, members of the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust discovered the crates of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt. One was flown to Canterbury Museum in New Zealand for careful thawing.
The conservation team recovered ten bottles intact, and the whisky they contained, now well over 100 years old, was described as ‘a gift from heaven’ by Richard Paterson, the master blender at Whyte & Mackay, owners of the Mackinlay brand. In 2011, three of the bottles were flown back to home to Scotland for detailed scientific analysis.
Analysis of the original Mackinlay’s malt revealed the taste profile of the whisky. The team also established the strength of the whisky at 47.3% alc/vol, the fact that Orkney peat was used in the malting, and that the spirit had been atured in American white oak sherry casks.
Inspired by this analysis, efforts to re-create the whisky begun. Malts from Glen Mhor and Dalmore distilleries were combined with others from Speyside and beyond. The result is a malt light honey in colour with an aroma that is soft, elegant and refined, and a taste that is both harmonious and exhilarating. This is a meticulous re-creation. It is the enduring spirit of another time, and make an hell of a story for a glass of whiskey.
If something more is needed to make you try this wonderful whiskey, take a look at the newspaper ad used to enlisted men into following Shackleton in his adventures, and think what kind of drink could fuel such a bravery.
best of luck everybody