Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Expedition To Antarctica For 100 Year Old Scotch

The Scottish distillers Whyte & Mackay have asked a team that will making an expedition to Antarctica in January to drill through the ice there to look for a lost cache of vintage "McKinlay and Co." Scotch whisky. It was left there 100 years ago, all that remains of the 25 cases of scotch shipped to the Antarctic by British polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton as part of his abandoned 1909 expedition. The company wants a sample of it for a series of tests that could decide whether to relaunch the now-defunct scotch.

I was a little surprised to learn that Shackleton took 25 crates of whiskey on his polar expedition, to be honest, and even more so to learn that 24 of the 25 cases had been drunk. That expedition had been a partial failure, his team having failed to reach the South Pole, and returning to port (in what has been called a "race against starvation") only in the nick of time to catch the ship home. At one point Shackleton gave his one biscuit allotted for the day to an ailing member of his team, who wrote in his diary: "All the money that was ever minted would not have bought that biscuit and the remembrance of that sacrifice will never leave me." But apparently they still found the time (and the strength) to get through 24 of the 25 cases of scotch.

I also found it funny that the international Antarctic Treaty apparently bars this last remaining case of scotch from being dug up entirely. Embedded below is a 2 minute TV news piece about this.

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