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Whisky created as testament to Shackleton

Whyte and Mackay has launched Shackleton blended Scotch malt whisky, inspired by one of the 20th centuries most charismatic leaders – a whisky for those who aren’t afraid to go their own way.

Shackleton will launched globally by Whyte and MacKay, the Emperador Inc owned whisky brand, initially in global travel retail then on-trade and specialist retail in the UK and France in May, the US in September, as well as key Asian markets.

Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922), British Eexplorer, led the very first expedition to set foot on the South Polar Plateau; the man whose team conquered the Antarctic’s most active volcano Mount Erebus; the man who broke records, reaching the furthest south of any expedition before famously turning back, when just 97 miles from the South Pole in order to save the lives of his men – a charismatic leader who set his own course.

Shackleton set sail in 1907; his small ship, the Nimrod was stocked with rations including 25 cases of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky.

In 2007, nearly a century later, three cases of the perfectly preserved whisky were uncovered, frozen into the ice beneath Shackleton’s base camp. Worldrenowned master blender, Richard Paterson, carried out painstaking analysis to re-create the antique whisky, and has used this as the foundation to create Shackleton - a new premium Scotch whisky that embodies the legendary explorer’s spirit for today.

The multi-textured packaging is both striking and premium. It celebrates the expeditions of one of the greatest Antarctic leaders and champions the authentic link the whisky has with the story. The polar charts of the early 1900s inspire the distinctive colour, Antarctic Blue, which is used on both the presentation pack and the label while Shackleton’s navigational achievements are honoured with finer details including an intricate compass logo, and use of the Shackleton family moto “By Endurance we Conquer”. An inspirational quote from the man himself also appears embossed on the bespoke ice blue glass bottle, which is based on the original MacKinlay’s whisky bottle found under the ice beneath Shackleton’s Antarctic base camp at Cape Royds.

“This momentous launch for Whyte & Mackay represents an exciting, emerging direction for Scotch whisky,“ said Stuart Bertram, head of whisky development brands at Whyte & Mackay.

“With the accessibility of a blend and the craft credentials of a malt, this unique, storied brand is set to bring modern spirits drinkers into Scotch as well as providing a new, premium alternative for the blended whisky occasion for those existing Scotch whisky fans.

“In a personal and deeply felt project during his 50th year in the industry, Paterson has created something truly unique in Scotch whisky - a master class in the fine art of whisky blending. He has expertly built upon the original Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt, using a handpicked selection of the best Highland Malt whiskies, allowing them to marry over a long period to create a contemporary and enigmatic blended malt which is rich, robust, with whisper of smoke.”

Paterson says: “It has been a great honour to create this whisky as a testament to Sir Ernest Shackleton. His character and his story remain a true inspiration, and I wanted to capture the essence of Sir Ernest within this whisky.

“Like the man himself, who made his mark on the world, this whisky certainly makes a mark on the palate. The boldness and complexity to its rich character is drawn from the Highland region and echoes Sir Ernest’s dogged determination and fighting spirit for success. A gentle bite of peat smoke reminds us of the unforgiving place he and his men found themselves in. And, in the same way a successful crew needs time to forge a bond, I allowed my creation time to marry and come together.”


Tim Jarvis, the British explorer and environmentalist, will act as Global Brand Ambassador. In 2013, Tim led the first authentic retracing of Shackleton’s “double” - sailing a replica James Caird boat 1500kms across the Southern Ocean from Elephant Island, Antarctica to South Georgia and climbing over South Georgia’s mountainous interior using the same rudimentary equipment, period clothing and technology as Shackleton did in 1916. Tim Jarvis shares the polar explorer’s pioneering, optimistic and outcome-focused approach to his expeditions and sustainability projects. Focusing on understanding the scale of the task ahead and prevailing through a combination of outcome-focused goal-setting, adaptability, resilience and teamwork.

Tim is a global brand ambassador for Shackleton Blended Malt Whisky. He will have a varied role, which will include lectures, providing content and helping to network the brand with like-minded individuals who share Shackleton’s values today.

A contribution from all sales of Shackleton whisky will be made to the Antarctic Heritage Trust (NZ). This will go towards the ongoing preservation of Shackleton’s 1907 basecamp on Antarctica and supporting projects that build on the legacy of Shackleton and his men.

Antarctic Heritage Trust’s executive director Nigel Watson says that finding Shackleton’s whisky has been one of the highlights for the Trust and that through sharing the story worldwide it has connected a new generation of people with Shackleton and his incredible journey: “We congratulate Whyte and MacKay for continuing the story with their new whisky and honouring Shackleton’s legacy and the spirit of exploration.”


31 May 2017 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, Editor in Chief