Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky

Adventure and intrepid travel come together in the story of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky.

During the British Antarctic Expedition of 1907-1909, explorer Ernest Shackleton and his team nearly met their demise and failed to reach their destination by a mere 100 miles. During their epic journey, they left behind several crates of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt, a 1907 whisky which was buried deep in ice beneath their hut at Cape Royds.

Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky Packaging

After a century in thick ice, three crates of Shackleton’s whisky were uncovered in February 2007.  Three bottles made their journey home to the Highlands of Scotland where Richard Paterson, Whyte & Mackay’s master blender, also known as “The Nose”, kept the Shackleton spirit alive by seeking to re-create the whisky.

The first challenge was to acquire malt from Glen Mhor, a distillery that was demolished in 1986. Limited stocks were combined with malt from Dalmore Distillery to form the base of the spirit. Speyside malts such as Longmorn, Benriach, Glenfarclas, Mannochmore, Tamnavulin and Glen Rothes were combined with Highland whiskies from Balblair and Pulteney, along with a little of The Dalmore to replicate the floral character.

Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky
Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky

Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt (47.3%) is a mix of several malts varying in age from eight to 30 years aged in sherry butts. The whisky has pale honey colour, with soft and elegant floral aromas. Richard Paterson describes the nose as having “delicate notes of crushed apple, pear and fresh pineapple with notes of oak shavings, smoke and hints of buttery vanilla, creamy caramel and nutmeg.”

On the palate, it is mild and subtle with faint smoke, some spice and a dry finish. It does not linger long, nor does it have the expected alcohol burn for its ABV. In tasting this malt, it is best to keep in mind that it is a recreation of a 1907 whisky that had been kept for a century in ice and therefore may not meet the expectations of the modern palate.

Shackleton’s Whisky

Shackleton’s whisky, as it is commonly referred to, is a malt well-suited for collectors. The bottle and packaging have been recreated in the style of the original whisky. The hand-lettering and labelling techniques from the early 20th century add an authentic touch and the bubbles in the glass give each bottle a unique character.

Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt (47.3% ABV) is a limited release whisky and it is available in Australia from Dan Murphy’s priced at $200 for 700mL.

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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.

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