Century Old Whisky Recovered from the Ice of Antarctica

Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton's century-old whisky has been retrieved.

February 5, 2010, 1:09 PM

LONDON, Feb. 5, 2010 -- Whisky bottles belonging to the antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, kept on ice for more than 100 years, have been found and retrieved from beneath the explorer's abandoned hut.

The three cases of what is now aged scotch and two cases of brandy were left behind when Shackleton ran out of other supplies and gave up his attempt to reach the South Pole in 1909.

The bottles are now being examined by a team of scientists from New Zealand who were surprised to have found so much alcohol still in tact.

"We thought there were two crates possibly containing whisky under the 1908 building. To our amazement we found five crates, three labeled as containing whisky and two labeled as containing brandy," team leader Al Fastier said in a statement today.

Whyte & Mackay, the current owner of MacKinlay distillery which provided Schackleton with his alcohol supplies, launched the expedition by the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust to recover the scotch.

Now Whyte & Mackay wants to also recover the recipe for Shackleton's scotch.

"After bringing it to room temperature, I plan on pouring it into a glass, swirling it around and letting the liquid reveal the hidden treasures that were captured in the ice for all these years," Richard Paterson, one of the lead blenders for Whyte & Mackay, told ABC News with obvious excitement.

He also has other plans for the historic blend.

"If the contents can be confirmed, safely extracted and analyzed, the original blend may be able to be replicated. Given the original recipe no longer exists this may open a door into history," he said.

"We look forward to working with the Trust to try and replicate the whisky for mutual benefit, allow people to taste a true part of history and be part of what must be the whisky story of the century," Paterson said.

Shackleton's Whisky Under Control of Treaty

As of now, the results of the bottle are still under wraps. The New Zealanders have agreed to update Paterson on the possibility of extracting the alcohol from some of the bottles, but the rest will remain with the Trust in observance of the 12 Antarctic Treaty nations guidelines.

Shackleton who once famously said, "If I had not some strength of will I would make a first class drunkard," failed on his attempt to reach the South Pole, which began with 25 crates of booze. His Nimrod Expedition ran short of supplies on its long ski trek to the South Pole from the northern Antarctic coast in 1907-1909 and turned back about 100 miles (160 kilometers) short of its goal.

The expedition sailed away in 1909 as winter ice formed, leaving behind supplies, including the whisky and brandy.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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