Watching Ice Melt: Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic Whiskey Crate Opened

Shackleton's Antarctic whiskey
Shackleton's Antarctic whiskey
Emily Stone/GlobalPost

Polar explorer Ernest Shackleton loved his whiskey, not a bad thing to pack on long, potentially doomed trips across hundreds of miles of Antarctic ice, and thus for a 1907 expedition to the South Pole, he brought along 25 crates of Scotch. When Shackleton abandoned the attempt, many of his supplies were cached, and remained lodged in the Antarctic ice until 2006, when conservators discovered two cases of Charles Mackinlay & Co. whiskey. The crate was eventually freed and brought back to New Zealand.

In recent weeks, the crate has been thawing out at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, part of The Great Whisky Crate Thaw project. Now the crate has been opened, revealing the 11 bottles of Scotch, still covered in the straw that protected them through the minus-20-degree conditions. Although the booze has been described as being in remarkably good condition, it will probably not be consumed, but analyzed and studied -- the original recipe for the Scotch no longer exists -- before being returned to the ice, and to the floorboard museum of Shackleton's Antarctic hut. Sometimes the best glasses raised are imaginary.


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