Review: Mackinlay’s Shackleton Rare old

Today I’m reviewing a special blend as part of blended whisky month, and a big thank you to Sean Foushee (@whiskymarks) for sending me this one.

This is Shackleton’s whisky. Buried for over a century in Antarctica following Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated expedition to the south pole, this whisky was found and then, eventually, recreated by Whyte and Mackay.

W&M were given permission to fly 3 bottles back to Scotland where there were  analysed by the W&M team and then recreated by master blender Richard Patterson. The recipe does include some old 30 year old whisky (1983 Glen Mhor), and there is no doubt, with the back story, that this is a special whisky.

Here are the dramstats:



  • Price £98 plus shipping
  • ABV 47.3%
  • Age 100+ 😉

Nose: This is interesting. Some of the qualities of the lost Tartan Prince blend from my last review. In particular the fruity notes which I can only describe as “sea kelp shower gel” that I used to buy (can’t pin down the actual fruits). There is a hint of savoury smoke and roasted nuts. It is surprisingly woody for what would have been a relatively inexpensive blend back in the day. Sour grapefruit and honey sweetness, then some sultana and salt chocolate in the background. Definitely some sherry in here.

Palate: Fruity with woody, sultana, white grape and savoury notes.

Finish: Right at the death there is an earthy peaty note with roasted nuts (like a springbank type of peat), with smoke and sea salt.

Verdict: It reminds me of what Benromach are doing at the moment, yet it is much more complex, at least on the nose. I think I’d need much more than a 35ml sample to get to the bottom of this one. I feel I missed a lot of the story on the palate, though it’s not an easy one to read. Now to the part of the review where I discuss price. Well there is no doubt that nearly £100 for a blend is expensive (I rarely break the £100 for a bottle of whisky though I sometimes do). For me to spend this much, the whisky needs to wow me, and based on only this one dram, I was not wowed. However, there is more to this whisky than just the liquid for the pleasure of drinking. This is a piece of history and it has obviously been an arduous task recreating it. The packaging is lovely and it all leads to the feeling that when drinking this you are looking back to the past, both to the history of scotch whisky and to that hut in Antarctica over 100 years ago. This is not a marketing gimmick, nor a collectors price. This is a fairly priced product in my view. Sometimes whisky is about more than nose and taste and this is one of those times.



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