Whisky Advocate

Review: Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland whisky

May 17th, 2011

Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland whisky, 47.3%,  $162

Rarely has a blend caused as much excitement as this one, but with good reason. This is also known as the Shackleton whisky, and is a recreation of the whisky abandoned in the Antarctic by explorer Ernest Shackleton more than 100 years ago. It has lemon, spring blossom, and wafts of smoke on the nose. The taste is full and citrusy, with peat and pepper in attendance. Beautifully balanced and outstanding, but there are just 50,000 bottles, so snap it up. –Dominic Roskrow

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 92

36 Responses to “Review: Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland whisky”

  1. Scribe says:

    While pricey, it’s potentially satisfying to consider sitting with a dram of this and reading one of several historical volumes out about Shackleton’s journey. May have to just break down and pick one up!

  2. sam k says:

    Scribe, I’m not sure there’s a book about this particular expedition, which is not the ordeal described in the famous book “South” about the Endurance expedition, which took place from 1914-16. This is from Shackleton’s 1907 Nimrod adventure, which no one seems to be much aware of. Maybe the confusion is partly intentional?

    That being said, who wouldn’t want to have a glass of this stuff? I’m in!

  3. who is the importer for this gem?

  4. mongo says:

    *just* 50,000?

  5. Louis says:

    Any idea when it will be hitting the shelves in the US?

    • Morgan Steele says:

      I’ve asked several US retailers the same question. But, though they’re aware of the product they can’t provide anything definitive on timing. With 50k bottles, I think it’s likely we’ll be seeing it here. I know some retailers in the UK will ship it to the US but I’m curious to see US pricing first.

      • two-bit cowboy says:

        The company received its USA label approval a few weeks ago. I’ve never tracked how long from that annoying step to actual receipt in the warehouse, but don’t start holding your breath yet.

  6. Tim F says:

    Just thought it worth pointing out that this is a blended malt, not a blended whisky ie there is no grain content. Thanks to the SWA for any confusion caused.

  7. Texas says:

    Normally I would never spend anything close to this, but having been to Antarctica several times and having been to the hut where the whisky was found, I would love to have a bottle. Really, really neat thing they did.

    • sam k says:

      Tex, was the existence of the whisky’s whereabouts known at the time, or were you standing atop hidden treasure? Great story!

      • Texas says:

        ..samk, I don’t think they knew the whisky was beneath the floorboards at that time. Of course going to Antarctica is hardly heroic anymore..if you are in McMurdo before about late Nov (too much melting after that for the road to be usable you can take a tour where they take you in a vehicle over to the north side of Ross Island where Shackleton’s Hut is located.

        • Texas says:

          ..I was on the Ice the year it was found (2006), but I visited the hut in 1999..

          BTW Scott’s Hut, which is there on Ross Island near McMurdo Station features a seal carcass outside the hut that has been there, undisturbed and undecayed after 100+ years..

          • sam k says:

            Awesome stuff, Tex! Thanks for sharing. Maybe if you get the chance to return, you can take along a flask of the new blend to consecrate the hut!

          • Texas says:

            That’s my plan. I will be leaving in late October to go back.

          • plasticman says:

            @texas Like you I normally would not spend this kind of money. I have to say I just ordered 3 bottles today. You say you will be coming down here, what do you do? Im here now as the power plant operator.

  8. Red_Arremer says:

    What exactly qualifies this as a “recreation” of the Shackleton whisky?

    • sam k says:

      Red, if I remember it all correctly, once the cases of Mackinlay’s Rare Old were discovered under the hut a few years ago, permission was eventually given by the New Zealand government for some of the original whisky to be taken back to Scotland for analysis by Richard Paterson of White & Mackay (current owners of the brand), who then did yeoman’s work in replicating the contents to the best of his considerable ability.

      The only other person to taste both the original and the replication, Dave Broom, concurred that the new version is spot on with the first. Well done, Richard!

      The remainder of the whisky was returned to be re-interred beneath the hut, becoming brothers once again with the seal carcass mentioned above by Texas!

      • Red_Arremer says:

        I knew Richard had claimed to do “yeoman’s work.” What I didn’t know was that we had a second opinion of that work in the form of Dave Broom’s endorsement– Thanks for the info, Sam. Makes me interested to try it.

      • Texas says:

        ..just to clarify that seal carcass is outside of Scott’s Hut, near McMurdo,on the south side of Ross Island..the whisky is under Shackleton;s Hut on the north side of Ross Island.

  9. Louis says:

    As the replica got a 92 rating, they must have had some pretty decent whisky a century ago. :)

    • John Hansell says:

      I can’t speak for this whisky, but I can say from personal experience that I had the good fortune of trying the original and also the replica of a whisky from a certain distillery and they made the replica better because the original was not very good.

      • sam k says:

        Could you share the vintage of that other “original” whisky, John? I’m just wondering how its place in time compares to the Shackelton-era Mackinlay’s.

    • sam k says:

      Louis, they had some absolutely fabulous whisky a century ago! :-D

  10. Iain Russell says:

    Is it a ‘blended malt’?

  11. […] time. The picture does it no justice. And it’s not just pretty. The Malt Advocate rated it 92pts. They will be on sale for $144.99/bottle. I’m not saying that’s cheap, but I thought it […]

  12. Morgan Steele says:

    My two bottles arrived safely today. I’ll be opening a bottle this weekend with a friend and will try to take detailed notes. I’m interested to know if anyone on these boards have tried this whisky and what you experienced.

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