Dave meets Shackleton (almost)

The Shackleton whiskies which were liberated from their icy tomb last year are finally back in the UK after a mildly surreal journey from their temporary residence in New Zealand under the protection of the Antarctic Heritage Trust [AHT]. The Trust had initially refused to allow Whyte & Mackay to transport the bottles back to Scotland for analysis on a commercial flight, but relented when the firm’s owner Dr Vijay Mallya flew his private jet to New Zealand. The three bottles were then placed in temperature-controlled boxes which were handcuffed to W&M’s master blender Richard Paterson for the long journey home.
The AHT also placed strict guidelines on how the whisky was to be extracted from the bottles, meaning that Dave Broom, WM’s man in Glasgow, was unable to even get the merest whiff of the liquid. Paterson will take the bottles to W&M’s lab in Invergordon today (Wed) to start the analysis. Small amounts will be extracted by syringe and then be run through GC analysis as well as being placed under Paterson’s legendary conk.
“At this stage I don’t even know if they are blend, vatted malt or single malt,” said Paterson, “though my hunch is that they are single malt. It is an unbelievable find. I feel a bit like Howard Carter when he discovered the Tomb of Tutankhamen. These bottles could give us clues as to how whisky was made in Edwardian times – we hope that the ice has allowed them to be perfectly preserved.”
Paterson will send up to six weeks analysing the three bottles before they are shipped back – again by private jet – to New Zealand where they will be reunited with the rest of the stash. In time they will be returned to their icy home.
The next stage will definitely be some form of replica or homage. “I’m looking forward to seeing the scientific opinion,” added Dr Mallya, “but what excites me most is the marketing opportunity. Though we have no timescale as to when it will appear, the new generation of consumers around the world is going retro and if the whisky is correctly positioned it might be a hit.” Will he be able to taste some of the original? “Richard will have to have a teeny drop.. and I’ll be there.”


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