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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 17:34 EDT

Shackleton Scotch Freed From Antarctic Ice

August 13, 2010

A crate of Scotch that once belonged to famous explorer Ernest Shackleton was opened Friday, several months after having been rescued from a 100-plus old prison of Antarctic ice.

The crate, which contained 11 bottles of ‘Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky’, was discovered along with four others in Shackleton’s hut at Cape Royds on Ross Island in 2006. The famed traveler brought the liquor with him during his 1907 Nimrod expedition, according to the AP, and the cases were ultimately discovered encased in ice under the floor boards of the hut.

The liquor inside, however, had not frozen, despite temperatures of -22 Fahrenheit.

The Scotch, which was defrosted at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island, will eventually be returned to Shackleton’s hut and preserved “for its historic significance,” according to the AP. However, samples will be sent to Whyte and Mackay, the distiller who took over Mackinlay’s operations, so that they can attempt to duplicate the brew.

“The original recipe for the Scotch no longer exists,” notes the Associated Press (AP).

The whiskey was first discovered, along with a couple of crates of brandy, back in 2006 by a team that included Al Fastier of the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust. However, it could not be extracted until January of this year because it was too deeply encased in ice.

“To our amazement we found five crates, three labeled as containing whiskey and two labeled as containing brandy,” Fastier told French news agency AFP earlier this year. Also included along with the Mackinlay’s Scotch were crates of brandy labeled Chas McKinlay & Co and The Hunter Valley Distillery Limited Allandale.

Whyte and Mackay master blender Richard Paterson previously called it “a gift from the heavens for whisky lovers”¦ If the contents can be confirmed, safely extracted and analyzed, the original blend may be able to be replicated. Given the original recipe no longer exists, this may open a door into history.”

Ten of the bottles were reportedly perfectly intact, save for the labels, according to an August 13 press release from the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust.

“It’s been a delicate and slow process but we are delighted to be able to confirm that the crate contains intact bottles of whisky,” Lizzie Meek, the Antarctic Heritage Trust Artifacts Manager at the Heritage Trust, said in the press release.

Image Caption: Crates of Mackinlay’s whisky. Credit: nzaht.org

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