An intoxicating blend of Antarctic exploration in the ‘Heroic Era’ and the world of Scotch whisky, this book gives the full story behind the cases of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt that were rediscovered under the hut of Ernest Shackleton’s 1907-09 British Antarctic Expedition 100 years after an epic attempt at the South Pole.
The narrative tells of Shackleton’s teetotal upbringing, the making of the whisky at Inverness, the voyage to McMurdo Sound, the achievements of the BAE and the return to Scotland in 2010 of three bottles of the whisky for scientific analysis and re-creation. Shackleton described his team as ‘a very happy little party’ but unpublished diaries and other accounts suggest there were personality clashes and numerous niggles, as anyone might expect from confinement through four dark months of an Antarctic winter. Confinement, humour, drama, and extraordinary hardship. This is a close-up view of the expedition’s social life. Here, too, is the story of how New Zealand has safeguarded the expedition hut over more than 50 years, conserved its artefacts and kept the precious memorial to Shackleton – the only one on the continent – secure for future generations.
Neville Peat visited the hut in January 2007, the month the left-over whisky was dug out from its icy entombment. The book, a Longacre imprint, was published by Random House NZ in October 2012.