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Drilling Unveils 100-Year-Old Whisky on Ice Compiled by Bonnie Love, Editor, WorldWide Drilling Resource ® Ten years ago, specialized drilling in the Antarctic was used to recover crates of whisky which had been buried in permafrost for over 100 years. The story begins back in 1908, when British explorer Ernest Shackleton attempted to be the first to reach the South Pole. Prior to beginning the expedition, Shackleton ordered 25 cases of whisky as part of the supplies he would be taking on the trek. The whisky maker, mackinlay and Company, donated the spirits to the expedition team. For over a year, Shackleton and his crew explored Antarctica and trekked toward the South Pole. Unfortunately, they were low on supplies and about 100 miles from the South Pole when Shackleton realized they had to turn back if they were going to catch the ship before it sailed away. On their way back, they encountered a great deal of hardships and delays which nearly cost them their lives. Shackleton’s ship, Nimrod , had signaled it was leaving, but Shackleton and his group had not returned in time, so the group decided to set fire to the base camp hoping the ship would turn back. luckily, the ship saw the smoke and was able to turn around to pick up Shackleton and his crew. in their haste to leave before the deadly winter season began, the exploration team left behind a lot of supplies, including some of mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland malt Whisky. The whisky would sit on ice for over 100 years before anyone would learn of its existence. During this time, the mackinlay’s brand would be sold to Whyte and mackay, and the original recipe for the Scottish whisky would disappear forever. Then in 2006, polar restoration workers found what appeared to be two crates of whisky under the floorboards of Shackleton’s old hut. The stash was stuck deep in the ice, too deep for the group to reach it. it wasn’t until January 2010, when workers from New Zealand’s Antarctic Heritage Trust would use special drills to reach the crates and bring some of them to the surface. Ac- cording to international protocols agreed to by 12 Antarctic Treaty nations, the crates could only be removed from Antarctica for conservation reasons. Whyte and mackay worked with the Trust to recover some of the bottles. Once they reached the crates, they were stunned to discover there were ac- tually five crates; three contained whisky and two contained brandy. The three whisky crates were excavated with one of them flown to New Zealand to be carefully thawed by the Trust at the Canterbury museum. The bottles were intact, complete with straw packaging, and liquid could be heard sloshing around. The alcohol content of the whisky was high enough to withstand the -22ºF (-30ºC) temperatures without freezing. The Trust built a special cool room to defrost the crates and waited patiently for two weeks as the precious cargo gradually thawed so they could examine the contents. To the amazement of many, some of the bottles even had the original labels. Whyte and mackay had a special request. They wanted a sample of the whisky so they could attempt to replicate the orig- inal recipe. Under permit from the New Zealand government, the company was allowed to transport three bottles to Scotland on a private jet for scientific analysis by the company and The Scotch Whisky Research institute. The rest of the stash went back to Shackleton’s Hut in Antarctica. They were able to withdraw a sample of the scotch using a syringe to go through the cork. Experts used chromatography and a 15-member expert tasting panel to study the sample. Then, Richard Paterson, the distillery’s master blender was able to clone the taste of the original whisky. A limited run of 50,000 bottles of the recreated blend was initially produced. The company even donated 5% of every bottle sold to the Antarctic Heritage Trust to help fund their work caring for the four iconic expedition huts in the Antarctic. The blend was so popular that in 2012 a second edition was created. The remarkable whisky is still being sold today. Editor’s Note: In between our print issues, the WWDR Team prepares an electronic newsletter called E-News Flash . Based on readership, this was the most popular E-News Flash article of the month. Ge t in on the action and subscribe today at: EXB One of the undamaged bottles of whisky which was buried in the Antarctic for over 100 years. Photos courtesy of New Zealand’s Antarctic Heritage Trust. 16 MARCH 2020 WorldWide Drilling Resource ® Open the Doorway to all the Event Photos during Oklahoma Ground Water Association 2020 To see more photos from this event, go to Feel free to download at will and print the photo(s) of your choice. Compliments of WorldWide Drilling Resource ® . Photos are copyrighted and released for personal use only - no commercial use permitted.