Few names inspire a sense of adventure and heroism as that of Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton CVO OBE FRGS. A polar explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic and one of the principal figures of the Heroic Age of Exploration, Shackleton’s storied exploits on Discovery, Nimrod and Endurance have become the stuff of legend. Even the string vest the man wore during his famous 800-mile voyage in an open lifeboat across the Southern Ocean has become a carefully preserved relic. It is not surprising then that when three cases of whisky from the Nimrod expedition were discovered in the ice under Shackleton’s camp, admirers began salivating at the thought of tasting the man’s favourite dram. Enter Whyte & Mackay Master Blender, Richard ‘The Nose’ Paterson.
Sir Ernest Shackleton
The man with the million-pound nose was tasked with recreating the historic Mackinlay's Rare Old Highland Malt whisky from a vial extracted via syringe from one of the bottles. On loan to Whyte & Mackay, who own the Mackinlay’s brand, Paterson spent weeks in the laboratory nosing, tasting and deconstructing the whisky. His recreation comprises a wide selection of highland malts, including very old Glen Mhor single malt, which was a chief component of the Mackinlay blend before its closure in 1983. Bottled and packaged as a replica of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt, the recreation sold out of all 50,000 bottles within nine months of its release in 2011, raising almost £250,000 for the Antarctic Heritage Trust (AHT) in the process.
Richard Paterson, Whyte & Mackay Master Blender
A second edition called Mackinlay’s The Journey, took the original blend of single malts inspired by the original recipe and built upon them to create a more elegant and refined interpretation. A limited release of 100,000 bottles launched alongside a dramatic attempt to recreate Shackleton’s 1916 journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia. The combined efforts of Mackinlay’s The Journey and the expedition by Tim Jarvis was estimated to raise around £500,000 for AHT.
The latest chapter in the Mackinlay’s story is Shackleton Blended Malt Scotch Whisky. Taking the original recipe for Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt and building upon it once more, Paterson has combined more than twenty of the finest highland single malts to create a whisky with a real warmth and depth of character, much like Shackleton himself. With the strap line “Set your own course” the brand aims to reignite the pioneering spirit of adventure and self-determinism embodied by Shackleton while continuing to support the AHT’s legacy of preservation with a charitable donation from the sale of each bottle.
The buttery vanilla nose has toffee apple, honey-covered brioche and hints of Old English Marmalade, followed by cinnamon, crushed apple, banana bread and ginger cake before a whisper of bonfire smoke, salted bananas, liquorice and crème brûlée. A rich and rewarding palate, initial waves of treacle, molasses and sweet sultanas succumb to glazed pineapple, crusty bread, mango cake and mulled wine. A faint sprinkling of Pontefract cakes, praline chocolate and Oolong tea completes the enigmatic blend.
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