Sunday, 25 November 2012

Whisky Discovery #264

Mackinlay's Shackleton Whisky 'The Journey' (47.3% abv)
Blended Malt Whisky
Circa £100.00 70cl
Shackleton's Whisky
Mackinlay's Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky 'Shackleton's Whisky'
Following the huge success of its original recreation, the Glasgow based distiller Whyte & Mackay recently launched a new version of its world famous Mackinlay’s malt at Whisky Fest in New York, called . Affectionately known as 'Shackleton’s whisky', the spirit is a replica of the century old whisky found under Ernest Shackleton’s hut on the Antarctic.

'The Journey' is another meticulous re-creation of the original malt whisky shipped to Antarctica in 1907 by the explorer Ernest Shackleton to fortify his 'Nimrod' expedition. Several wooden crates of this precious whisky were abandoned to the Antarctic winter in early 1909, then rediscovered over a century later.

From the abandoned crates, ten bottles were recovered 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 and owners of the Mackinlay brand. In 2011, three of the bottles were flown back to home to Scotland for detailed scientific analysis.

Mackinlay's Rare Old Highland Malt was originally distilled at Glen Mhor distillery in Inverness and analysis revealed the taste profile of the whisky. The strength of the whisky was established at 47.3% abv as well as Orkney peat was used in the malting, and that the spirit had been matured in American white oak sherry casks.

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.

This second  edition of the replica Mackinlay's was prompted by a request from the Antarctic Heritage Trust (AHT), the charity which found the whisky, to find ways to raise much needed funds for the conservation of the expedition bases on the Antarctic.

Shackleton's Whisky
Straw packaging for protection, pre-bubble wrap 1907 style
The first run of the replica Mackinlay’s sold out within a year and that success raised close to £250,000 for the AHT. The release of the new recreation is expected to raise a further £500,000. These funds will be used for conservation and research, and a web based education programme about the great explorer.

At the same time as the AHT request, Alexandra Shackleton approached Whyte & Mackay and asked if they would support a recreation expedition of her grandfather’s life-saving journey by renowned polar explorer Tim Jarvis. Described as the “greatest survival journey of all time”, Jarvis and his team will tackle the 800 nautical mile journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia and traverse its mountainous interior - the same courageous journey that Shackleton undertook to save his crew of 28 men back in 1916.

This adventure will take place in January and February 2013 and will see Jarvis and his crew undertake this treacherous journey using an exact replica of the 22.5 foot life boat used by Shackleton.

Richard Paterson, Whyte & Mackay’s renowned master blender was the man responsible for faithfully recreating the Mackinlay's malt. “Nosing, tasting and recreating this amazing piece of history was the highlight of my 40 year career,” he enthused.

Shackleton's Whisky

Mackinlay's 'The Journey' contains different malts from the original recreation but tastes exactly like the original replica and the 100 year old whisky. But the packaging has changed dramatically to signify that it is a different product, and instead of a wooden crate the bottle comes wrapped in “straw” like the original bottles found under Shackleton's hut. This is contained in a box designed to look similar to the packaging used by museums to ship precious artifacts.

The plan is to create and sell 100,000 bottles in key markets across the globe including Australia and New Zealand, Canada, Scandinavian countries, the US where the global launch is taking place and the travel retail sector.

Shackleton's Whisky
The new releases packaging
Official Tasting Notes:
Colour: Light honey, straw gold with shimmering highlights.
Nose: Soft, elegant and refined. Delicate crushed apple, pear and fresh pineapple. Notes of oak shavings and smoke. Hints of vanilla, creamy caramel and nutmeg.
Taste: Plenty of impact on the palate; a tantalising array of flavours, harmonious and exhilarating.

The Presentation
Box: A unique, stand-out hexagonal "shipping case" with an open "see me" window on the front panel. The raffia-encasing of the product is reminiscent of the original straw-bound bottles discovered in the Antarctic. A holographic badge issues authenticity.
Bottle: A painstaking process was followed to ensure all bubbles and imperfections in the original were replicated. In effect, the glass manufacturer turned off all the modern-day quality controls.
Labels: All lettering was meticulously drawn by hand to ensure a perfect match to the original. Paper stocks were selected to perform as the original stocks of over a century ago.

So what did I think?

I wrote in my notebook 'Grassy at first' as it started with a slightly grassy note, which starts to open upon up with fresh, flora and malty notes. The sweetness hits with citrus zest, vanilla and toffee notes, Great balance to this sweetness. The spice comes through as ginger and there is a definite fresh oak shavings hint too and a light smoke coming from the charred cask.

There was so much going on in the nose of this malt that my palate notes were a lot simpler; 'sweet and creamy' was what I initially wrote down, but the citrus notes come through as a lemon meringue pie, It's really quite gentle on the palate, even at 47.3% abv. The vanilla and toffee notes start to come through and there is a warming spicy finish to the end. I loved it, but then I knew that I would - being blended by Master blender Richard Paterson aka 'The Nose' I didn't think I would be anything else but impressed with it. Reviewing the flavour profile above I noted that Richard has probably made this blend slightly leaning towards today's taste of being a little sweeter than the original, and hence less sour, and there is very little noticeable peat in this expression until the glass is empty, and then the faint traces can be found in the glass.

As far as I can tell this hasn't been released to the market yet and clicking through the official website I can only register my interest, which of course I have. The original release is still available in some outlets at around £100 a bottle, and if anyone would like to buy me one for Christmas or even my first whisky birthday I would be very happy! I would loved to own a bottle of each of these expressions, a little piece of whisky history.

Many thanks to Whyte and Mackay for the tasting sample and to read more about this whisky please visit:


Billy Abbott said...

We put it up on sale at TWE this afternoon -

Gal Granov said...

Lovely stuff!