Tue January 18, 2011
The Two-Way

Shackleton's Whisky Heads Home After 100 Years On Ice

Several bottles of key expedition kit are making their way back home to Scotland more than 100 years after being abandoned in Antarctica by Sir Ernest Shackleton.

The British explorer's unsuccessful South Pole expedition of 1907 left quite a few bottles of alcohol buried beneath a hut in Antarctica, including Mackinlay's whisky. The stash was discovered last year.

The whisky -- dating from 1896 or 1897 -- stayed liquid despite temperatures in the range of minus 22 Fahrenheit. Now a few bottles have been flown back to Scotland aboard a private jet for analysis.

Whyte & Mackay's, which now owns the Mackinlay's brand, will use syringes to extract small samples of the precious liquid. They want to see how it compares to modern recipes, and to see if it can be recreated.

The FT, however, reports that rules governing historic sites in Antarctica mean that the whisky will not be drunk or sold:

"The international community has strict rules that govern the remains of the early 20th century polar expeditions. Generally, nothing can be removed from Antarctic territories, except to be brought to New Zealand for research and conservation. However, an exception has been made for the cases of alcohol ... "

The BBC has a video report showing both a case and bottle of the whisky. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.