Shackleton’s Antarctic whisky

Speaking of Antarctica, one of my recent Listener stories was about Ernest Shackleton’s whisky. I went to a whisky tasting in Wellington, mostly for fun, but then I realised there was actually a pretty good science story there. I didn’t even drink all the whisky – I’m not that much of a fan – but I did like the replica of Shackleton’s 100-year old whisky.

When Ernest Shackleton was ordering provisions for his 1907 expedition to Antarctica, he made it clear that along with the requisite tins of herrings, mulligatawny soup, gooseberry jam and marmalade, he and his men required a supply of whisky. Not just any whisky, but a fine Highland malt. Twenty-five cases of it.

When Shackleton left Antarctica in 1909, after reaching 88° 23′ south – the closest anyone had been to the South Pole – he left some of that whisky behind. Now, thanks to an international team of conservators and chemists, we know what the whisky looked like and how it was made. And whisky-lovers willing to pay £100 (NZ$200) for a bottle of the replica whisky that went on sale last month will know just what it tasted like.

Read more …

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About Rebecca Priestley

I have a PhD in the history & philosophy of science and I write about science and science history. I live in New Zealand.
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