A very old tale of whisky and ice

Whisky over ice is nice. Whisky preserved in ice? That's another story.

And this story, told by the Evening Standard's online entertainment guide This Is London, involves an Antarctic explorer and two cases of MacKinlay's Rare Old Whisky.

It seems Shackleton (seen here) left the drink behind when he and his crew threw in the towel 98 miles short of their goal in a 1908 expedition to reach the South Pole and abandoned their icy hut.

The cases were discovered by a conservation team excavating ice from beneath the hut.

"It was a magic moment. It's a very exciting find," This Is London quoted Al Fastier, the New Zealander managing the conservation program at Cape Royds on Antarctica's Ross Island.

Shackleton and a crew of 14 built the hut as their base, then spent nine months in it when temperatures dropped as low as 58 below zero. According to their records, the subsisted on 1,600 pounds of Yorkshire ham, 100 pounds of Colman's Mustard, hundreds of packs of biscuits and tins of syrup.

MacKinlay's, a family distilling company in Leith, Edinburgh, was the expedition's official whisky supplier. It now is part of Whyte and Mackay. The explorers apparently finished off 10 of the 12 donated cases.

The bottles of whisky have been left in the cases where they were found. If removed, Fastier explained, they could be damaged. Although he agreed it is tempting to find out how the whisky fared, "It's better to imagine it than to taste it. That way it keeps its mystery."

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