The Canterbury Museum has thawed a crate of rare whiskey which had laid trapped under Antarctic ice for nearly 100 years.
The crate – which was recently recovered from the hut of Sir Ernest Shackleton – contains 11 bottles of Mackinlay’s Scotch whisky dating from 1896 to 1907.
The wording “British Antarctic Expedition 1907 Ship Endurance” is still visible on some of the bottles.
“It’s been a delicate and slow process but we are delighted to be able to confirm that the crate contains intact bottles of whisky,” said Lizzie Meek, Antarctic Heritage Trust Artifacts Manager.
“Intriguingly, one bottle is missing from the packing inside the crate. This is consistent with where the crate itself appears to have been jimmied open and the timber broken.”
Meek speculates that one of Shackleton’s crew drank the missing bottle because he “just couldn’t resist a tipple.”
But the museum staff will have little chance to sample the precious liquid for themselves, as they are working with the owners of Mackinlay’s to extract and analyze the whisky.
“The ultimate aim is to replicate the original blend so that whisky drinkers the world over can enjoy this gift from the whisky gods,” said Richard Paterson, Whyte and Mackay’s master blender.
“[And] there is much to do before we know if this is possible.”