Reviews of affordable whiskies with some entertaining tales along the way…
Ernest Shackleton was born in County Kildare, Ireland, in 1874 and gained fame in the early part of the 20th century as a polar explorer, leading three expeditions to the Antarctic.
During his first voyage, from 1901 to 1904, Shackleton set a new southern record before being sent home on health grounds. He returned in 1907 to break the record once again, marching within 97 miles of the pole and gaining a knighthood for his efforts.
By 1914, Shackleton had set his sights on a sea to sea crossing of the continent but disaster struck when his ship became trapped and slowly crushed by the terrible power of the ice. The crew escaped in life crafts and eventually made it to the inhabited island of South Georgia after an incredible voyage of some 720 nautical miles in the most severe of weather conditions.
Upon his return home, Shackleton began to plan a return to the Antartic but in 1921, he suffered a heart attack while docked at South Georgia and never quite made it back to the wilderness he dedicated so much of his life too.
Prior to his 1907 expedition, Shackleton ordered 25 cases of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky which he and his men would carry across the continent with them. 100 years later, three cases were found, still frozen in the ice beneath the expedition’s base camp. Brought back to the UK for examination, three bottles were acquired by Richard Patterson of Whyte & MacKay who set about creating an interpretation of the preserved spirit. The Shackleton ‘Discovery’ was released in 2009 and followed in 2012 by Shackleton ‘Journey’.
In 2017, a new, more affordable version was released. The Shackleton is bottled at 40% and available in the UK for around £30 a bottle.
Smell: There’s fudge and heather honey. Vanilla and apple and pineapple pastries. Coconut & lemon and maybe a tiny hint of smoke in the background.
Taste: Salted caramel with honey, oak and peppery spice. Again, there’s a little suggestion of smoke at the finish.
Thoughts: A whisky that gives the drinker an opportunity to daydream of explorers and their adventures. It conjures images of men huddled round fires in frozen wastelands, sipping drams to warm their bones, to stay alive another day so that they can push on and further the boundaries of humankind’s understanding of the world – and all of that for just £30 a bottle!? Romantic waffle aside, it’s actually a decent blended malt with good depth of flavour and pleasing weight on the palate – despite its low strength – and yes, it won’t break the bank.
If the whisky featured in this review has caught your eye, you can buy it from Master of Malt here. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission should you make a purchase after following a link from my page. The whisky is also available from several other excellent retailers.
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