Drilling for Scotch Whisky on Frozen Continent

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

A beverage company has asked a team to drill through Antarctica's ice for a lost cache of some vintage Scotch whisky that has been on the rocks since a century ago.

The drillers will be trying to reach two crates of McKinlay and Co. whisky that were shipped to the Antarctic by British polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton as part of his abandoned 1909 expedition.

Whyte & Mackay, the drinks group that now owns McKinlay and Co., has asked for a sample of the 100-year-old scotch for a series of tests that could decide whether to relaunch the now-defunct Scotch.

Workers from New Zealand's Antarctic Heritage Trust will use special drills to reach the crates, frozen in Antarctic ice under the Nimrod Expedition hut near Cape Royds.

Al Fastier, who will lead the expedition in January, said
restoration workers found the crates of whisky under the hut's
floorboards in 2006. At the time, the crates and bottles were too
deeply embedded in ice to be dislodged.

The New Zealanders have agreed to try to retrieve some bottles,
although the rest must stay under conservation guidelines agreed by
12 Antarctic Treaty nations.

Fastier said he did not want to sample the contents.

"It's better to imagine it than to taste it," he said. "That
way it keeps its mystery."

Richard Paterson, Whyte & Mackay's master blender, said the
Shackleton expedition's whisky could still be drinkable and taste
exactly as it did 100 years ago.

If he can get a sample, he intends to replicate the old Scotch
and put McKinlay whisky back on sale.

"I really hope we can get some back here," he was quoted as
telling London's Telegraph newspaper. "It's been laying there
lonely and neglected. It should come back to Scotland where it was

"Even if most of the bottles have to remain in Antarctica for
historic reasons, it would be good if we could get a couple,"
Paterson said.

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