Drinking Earnest Shackleton’s Whiskey
Aboard the Nimrod, from left, Frank Wild, Ernest Shackleton, Eric Marshall and Jameson Adams.
By CHARLES McGRATH Published: July 21, 2011
“It’s daft,” a man settled in a Glasgow pub said to me not long ago, talking about the sums that rare Scotch whiskies sometimes fetch at auction — the bottle of Dalmore 64-year-old, for example, that sold last month for nearly $200,000. “If you pay that much, you canna drink it, and wha’s the use a just lookin’ at the bottle?”
For $160 or so, collectors in America will shortly be able to buy, nestled in a little crate made in China to look authentically Scottish, not a rarity, exactly, but a replica of one: whisky fabricated to resemble the whisky that the explorer Ernest Shackleton took with him to the Antarctic so long ago that people had forgotten all about it. In February 2007, workers trying to restore Shackleton’s hut there accidentally came across three cases of Scotch — “Rare old Highland malt whisky, blended and bottled by Chas. Mackinlay & Co.” — frozen in the permafrost. The labels on the whisky say it was intended for what Shackleton was planning to call the Endurance expedition but ended up being known as the Nimrod expedition of 1907, which was the earlier and lesser-known of his two great journeys but the more successful. He actually got to within about 100 miles of the South Pole, farther south than anyone had gone previously.