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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 14, 2010

Old Scotch recovered in Antarctic

Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Five crates of Scotch whisky and two of brandy were recovered by a team under an Antarctic hut.

Antarctic Heritage Trust via AP

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand This Scotch has been on the rocks for a century.

Five crates of Scotch whisky and two of brandy have been recovered by a team restoring an Antarctic hut used more than 100 years ago by famed polar explorer Ernest Shackleton.

Ice has cracked some of the bottles left there in 1909, but the restorers said they are confident the five crates contain some intact bottles.

Drinks group Whyte & Mackay launched the bid to recover the Scotch for samples to decide whether to relaunch the defunct spirit made by Mackinlay and Co.

New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust team leader Al Fastier said restoration workers found the crates under the hut's floorboards in 2006, but they were too deeply embedded in ice to be dislodged.

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

"The unexpected find of the brandy crates, one labeled Chas. Mackinlay & Co. and the other labeled The Hunter Valley Distillery Lim[0xad]ited Allandale (Australia), are a real bonus," said Fastier. Ice has cracked some of the crates and formed inside. Fastier said in a statement that will make extracting them delicate, but that the trust will decide how to do so in coming weeks.

Richard Paterson, blender at Whyte & Mackay, whose company supplied the Mackinlay's whisky for Shackleton, described the find as "a gift from the heavens for whisky lovers."

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

Shackleton's expedition ran short of supplies on its ski trek to the South Pole in 1907-1909 and turned back about 100 miles short of its goal. They sailed away in 1909, leaving behind the whisky and brandy.