The Whisky Exchange
The Shackleton Whisky
70cl / 47.3%
70cl / 47.3%

The Intro

The Mackinlay's Rare Old Highland Malts are re-creations of the original malt whisky shipped to Antarctica in 1907 by the explorer Ernest Shackleton to fortify his 'Nimrod' expedition.

The story of how several wooden crates of this precious whisky were abandoned to the Antarctic winter in early 1909, then rediscovered over a century later, is one that celebrates the enduring spirit of both man and malt. You can read all about the journey and re-discovery on this site, and we also reveal how this unique whisky was carefully re-created for you to savour and enjoy.

The Journey Begins

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.

The Stunning Discovery

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.

The Discovery Edition Whisky

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 matured 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.

The Journey Edition Whisky

With the launch of the Shackleton Epic Expedition, and continued correspondence with Shackleton's grand-daughter Alexandra and the Antarctic Heritage Trust, Richard Paterson was inspired to create a second edition of the Mackinlay's Rare Old Highland Malt - The JOURNEY.

The Epic Expedition will attempt to replicate Shackleton's "Double": his journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia, a distance of 800 miles over sea and ice. This will be done with the same kinds of equipment used in the 1916 expedition, including the Alexandra Shackleton, a replica of the 23ft open lifeboat used on the original voyage.

The Journey Edition of Mackinlay's takes the same base of single malts used to create the original Discovery Edition and, still inspired by the original recipe, builds on them to create a noticeably different dram - a more elegant and refined interpretation.