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"A Gift From the Heavens for Whisky Lovers"
November 18, 2010 10:21 AM   Subscribe

During his unsuccessful 1908 attempt to reach the South Pole, universal badass Ernest Shackleton left five crates of Scotch whisky and two crates of brandy buried in the ice under the floorboards of his hut at Cape Royds. The crates were dug up in February, and conservators are working on ten of the 114-year-old whisky bottles, some marked with ‘British Antarctic Expedition 1907 Ship Endurance,’ with an eye on replicating the long-lost blend.

Richard Paterson, a master blender for Whyte & Mackay, which supplied the Shackleton expedition with 25 crates of Mackinlay’s “Rare and Old” whisky, described the unearthing of the bottles as “a gift from the heavens for whisky lovers,” since the recipe for that blend has been lost. “If the contents can be confirmed, safely extracted and analyzed, the original blend may be able to be replicated.”

The expedition wasn't a total failure. Shackleton did reach the magnetic south pole, and was the first to climb Mt. Erebus. He was knighted for the effort. National Geographic is making a documentary about the discovery.

(More on the "whisky" vs. "whiskey" debate.)
posted by gottabefunky (37 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 

I'm all for good whisky, but hearing "South Pole," "whiskey," "replicating," and "buried under the ice," I instantly picture Kurt Russel with a bottle of J&B and I fear for what may happen next.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:27 AM on November 18, 2010 [21 favorites]


Replicating random liquids found in bottles on other disasterous expeditions probably not recommended.

"Mmm... salty!"
posted by Artw at 10:31 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


25 crates and they can't spare a few bottles? bastards! send me some and i will "safely extract and analyze" it for free
posted by kitchenrat at 10:34 AM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


...conservators are working on ten of the 114-year-old whisky bottles...

I'll bet they are.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:41 AM on November 18, 2010 [11 favorites]


Bathtub Bobsled: "I'm all for good whisky, but hearing "South Pole," "whiskey," "replicating," and "buried under the ice," I instantly picture Kurt Russel with a bottle of J&B and I fear for what may happen next"

I wouldn't worry, unless you're a chess computer.
posted by brundlefly at 10:43 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


(More on the "whisky" vs. "whiskey" debate.)

The debate only exists in the minds of the Scottish and the aspiring but misguided pedant. Which is why it was a smart move for you to include such a disclaimer here.
posted by cmoj at 10:46 AM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


The crates were dug up in February, and conservators are working on ten of the 114-year-old whisky bottles, some marked with ‘British Antarctic Expedition 1907 Ship Endurance,’ with an eye on replicating the long-lost blend.

This is exactly what happens when you let anglo explorers go to a new area and come back.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:51 AM on November 18, 2010


kitchenrat: 2 crates of brandy + 5 crates of whisky != 25 crates. Unfortunately, since "most of the bottles must stay under the ice according to conservation guidelines set by treaty" (they're historic artifacts, not plain ol' hooch), you'll need to dress warmly to imbibe...
posted by blacksmithtb at 10:52 AM on November 18, 2010


Whiskey from Antarctica is so much better than that whiskey from pee thing we saw a while ago.
posted by nickmark at 10:55 AM on November 18, 2010


I will only buy this if they name the blend: "At the Malts of Madness"
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:00 AM on November 18, 2010 [22 favorites]


These are a few of my favorite things.....
posted by The Whelk at 11:03 AM on November 18, 2010


blacksmithtb: "kitchenrat: 2 crates of brandy + 5 crates of whisky != 25 crates. Unfortunately, since "most of the bottles must stay under the ice according to conservation guidelines set by treaty" (they're historic artifacts, not plain ol' hooch), you'll need to dress warmly to imbibe.."

Where is the which supplied the Shackleton expedition with 25 crates of Mackinlay’s “Rare and Old” whisky in the quote in the summary from?
posted by mkb at 11:10 AM on November 18, 2010


I love whisky, but I drink it as if it was whiskey.
posted by Elmore at 11:16 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


How many times can permutations of the "Shackleton's Whiskey" story be posted across the internet?
posted by deadbilly at 11:17 AM on November 18, 2010


Over 100 media representatives from around the world gathered in Åland on Wednesday for a tasting of centuries-old champagne, one of the biggest media events in the Finnish autonomous island region’s history.
[...]
The treasure was discovered in a shipwreck by local diver Christian Ekström and his team. The divers came across around 70 bottles of champagne in the well-preserved wreck, which has been dated to the eighteenth or nineteenth century.

posted by The Lady is a designer at 11:23 AM on November 18, 2010


The whisky/whiskey debate is pretty easy to understand.

Irish whiskey is triple distilled so that it is smoother and you can drink a fuck load of it really fast and get smashed and not worry about shit.

Scotch whisky is double distilled so that it has a stronger/richer flavour that you must savour and therefore not have to worry that you are wasting money by getting smashed at an outrageous rate while still getting smashed and eventually not worrying and downing the whole bottle anyway.

In summing up there is no debate. The Scottish just didn't want to fork out for an extra 'e', and the irish were gee-eyed and didn't realise that they'd slapped an extra one in for no reason.
posted by Elmore at 11:25 AM on November 18, 2010 [10 favorites]


How many times can permutations of the "Shackleton's Whiskey" story be posted across the internet?

I dunno, 8?
posted by Elmore at 11:26 AM on November 18, 2010


"For a joint scientific and geographical piece of organisation, give me Scott; for a Winter Journey, Wilson; for a dash to the Pole and nothing else, Amundsen: and if I am in the devil of a hole and want to get out of it, give me Shackleton every time"

-- Apsley Cherry-Garrard (Antartic Explorer)

Whisky is the one spirit that I normally won't touch, but if they succeed I'll probably buy a bottle because Shackleton is one of my heroes.

He was an amazing leader of men - saving his entire expedition on the ill-fated Trans-Antartic Expedition was an incredible feat accomplished against overwhelming odds.

Although my missus refuses to forgive him because he failed to save Mrs Chippy, the ship's cat as well.
posted by garius at 12:03 PM on November 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


How many times can permutations of the "Shackleton's Whiskey" story be posted across the internet?

20, same as in town.
posted by advicepig at 12:04 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


> ... and the irish were gee-eyed

Don't hear that term around here much. But I remember it well. I remember a friend of a friend went by the name of "Gee-eyed Brian".
posted by stonepharisee at 12:12 PM on November 18, 2010


Don't hear that term around here much.

Um, didn't think many around here would be familiar with it. Probably not the nicest or most politically correct phrases, but it's colloquial and suited the post. Brian must have liked his booze.
posted by Elmore at 12:20 PM on November 18, 2010


Whisky is the one spirit that I normally won't touch, but if they succeed I'll probably buy a bottle because Shackleton is one of my heroes.

I don't drink at all, but I'd buy a bottle and keep it in the freezer just to remind myself to be awesome.
posted by The World Famous at 12:37 PM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is awesome and I am jealous. Fortunately I have the ability to replicate this by "analyzing" the bottle of Old Overholt that was abandoned in my liquor cabinet over a week ago, and thought lost to time. Fortunately it was rediscovered and an effort to see if it still has the original taste and potency will be staged this Friday night.

I'll let everyone know of the results when they're in.
posted by quin at 1:27 PM on November 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


The Lady is a Designer: Over 100 media representatives from around the world gathered in Åland on Wednesday for a tasting of centuries-old champagne, one of the biggest media events in the Finnish autonomous island region’s history

They also found bottled beer, which they will try to replicate.
posted by Kattullus at 1:41 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can we add universalbadass as a tag?
posted by Hoenikker at 2:43 PM on November 18, 2010


The recovery of historic alcoholic beverages and/or their recipes always makes me happy.
posted by immlass at 3:08 PM on November 18, 2010


He left whiskey behind. Perfectly good whiskey. He left it. Abandoned it. An Irishman. Rather far from the nearest pub and for no obvious good reason he leaves a few cases of bottled-for-the-expedition-whiskey under the floorboards.

Seems to me someone was already planning a reunion tour....
posted by three blind mice at 3:21 PM on November 18, 2010


Seems to me someone was already planning a reunion tour....

Yeah, he tried to go back around 1914, an attempt to cross Antarctica, by way of the South Pole.

Many of the Antarctic explorers left caches for themselves, and perhaps others - When Shackleton's Endurance (this was in ~1914, not 1907...) was crushed by ice in the middle of the ocean, one of their first idea was to make way to a island they knew had supplies already there.

On that same expedition, another ship was to leave supplies along the route, on the other side of the pole, for them to hopefully, find and pick up. The little amount that was cached, never were picked up.
posted by alex_skazat at 3:32 PM on November 18, 2010


Oh, for crying out loud, Canterbury Museum, crack open a bottle with your benefactors or auction a few of them off to help the budget. You deserve it. I can understand the goal of preservation if you only recovered a couple of bottles, but a whole crate of off-the-shelf liquor from only 100 years ago? What's the point of keeping all those bottles? I bet if Shackleton were alive he'd insist on a lively evening toasting the accomplishments of years past rather than entangling his legacy in forensics and bureaucracy.
posted by crapmatic at 3:42 PM on November 18, 2010


I bet if Shackleton were alive he'd insist on a lively evening toasting the accomplishments of years past rather than entangling his legacy in forensics and bureaucracy.

And yet, entanglements with bureaucracy are a big part of his legacy.
posted by The World Famous at 3:47 PM on November 18, 2010


I mainly think of Shackleton in terms of his namecheck in The Weakerthans "Our Retired Explorer (Dines With Michael Foucault in Paris, 1961)", so this was awesome for more context -- thanks!
posted by genehack at 4:46 PM on November 18, 2010


I usually think of the dubstep producer even though I don't even really listen to dubstep.
posted by mkb at 5:41 PM on November 18, 2010


The expedition wasn't a total failure. Shackleton did reach the magnetic south pole, and was the first to climb Mt. Erebus.

Nitpicking: that would be David, Mawson, and Mackay who reached the South Magnetic Pole (while Shackleton was busy attempting to reach the geographic pole). Similarly, it was David along with Mawson & Mackay (with someone else I can't recall) who had earlier climbed Erebus - essentially, the Erebus climb was Shackleton's way of 'toughening up' his crew (who mostly had no previous polar experience) and selecting who best to undertake the South Magnetic Pole trip.

As much as I admire Shackleton, the guy was crazy; that particular sort of crazy that comes from being something of a huckster, an excellent leader, and being in possession of a strong "an Englishman is always right, even when he's wrong" attitude. How else could you describe someone who (along with Scott) ignored the advice of Nanssen to use dogs (although he took them, he had no-one trained to handle them and, after his first half-hearted and failed attempts to learn, pretty much gave them up), and instead preferred to base his hopes of reaching the South Pole on a motor car and Manchurian ponies?

On topic: I seem to recall from the book that, soon after they first landed at Cape Royds, a gale scattered their temporary store, and a following blizzard buried and froze in most of their alcohol supplies. While a few crates were found and dug out, most were lost - a fact which seemed to worry Shackleton more than the prospect of freezing to death…
posted by Pinback at 5:54 PM on November 18, 2010


If he had been carrying rum instead, the mission would have been a complete success.
posted by MHPlost at 7:26 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Intrepid polar adventurer Ernest Shackleton explored Antarctica propelled by tablets of Forced March.

Any of that stash still lying around?
posted by telstar at 10:38 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


So who was the one who got burnt by Smaug?

Oh wait, Erebus, not Erebor.
posted by mkb at 5:56 AM on November 19, 2010


The debate only exists in the minds of the Scottish and the aspiring but misguided pedant. Which is why it was a smart move for you to include such a disclaimer here.

cmoj, do you really think there are that many Scots here on Metafilter?
posted by IAmBroom at 10:13 PM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


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