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Wednesday
Mar212012

The Shackleton Recreation

I'm sure most of you know the story about the new Whyte & MacKay release called MacKinlay's Rare Old Highland Whisky.  As the Shackleton expedition fled the coming Antarctic winter in 1909, they left behind some MacKinlay's whisky, which remained frozen until the cases were discovered under a hut by a team of scientists in 2006.  The whisky was flown back to the UK where it was analyzed and then recreated by Whyte & MacKay blenders, resulting in the limited edition bottle seen in the above photo.  The demand for the 50,000 bottle production has been outrageous and we were lucky to secure quite a hefty allocation.  The first batch sold in minutes and we've just received our second lot.  This time around I was able to taste the whisky and I found myself very impressed.  What's most interesting to me about the MacKinlay's is the fact that the grain whisky component comes from Glen Mhor distillery, just as the original Shackleton whisky did.  For those unaware, Glen Mhor distillery was completely destroyed by Diageo in the mid-1980s after being closed in 1983 (meaning the youngest possible age of the distillate would be 28 years).  It was a grain distillery in the Highland region that operated outside of Inverness, and after tasting our single cask bottlings from Girvan and Caledonian, I've become much more intrigued by the potential of more mature grain expressions.  

The grain whisky flavor completely dominates the MacKinlay's for my palate - and I love that.  It's almost smoky, but I don't think the Dalmore Single Malt used was peated, nor the Glen Mhor, but I might be wrong.  There's a wild grainy note that meanders in and out of peaty flavors before the stone fruits splash on the back palate.  The finish is classic grain, or classic well-made blended whisky - again, I was very impressed by it.  I think given a choice between something comparably priced, like Walker Blue, the MacKinlay's completely destroys the competition.  Plus, there's the fun historical and collectable elements to consider, so I'd definitely recommend the curious whisky fan to splurge on it.  I'm sure that a Google search can provide you with more detailed information, but for those interested in the whisky, have no fear - it's good.

-David Driscoll