Shackleton's South Pole whisky returns to Scotland

Ernest Shackleton and crew Ernest Shackleton, left, and fellow crew

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A case of whisky which spent more than 100 years buried in the Antarctic has returned to Scotland.

The scotch was buried beneath a hut used by the explorer Ernest Shackleton during his unsuccessful 1907 to 1909 expedition to reach the South Pole.

Five cases were dug up last year, before being carefully thawed by museum officials in New Zealand.

One of these cases - of Mackinlay whisky - has been flown to Scotland.

Distillers Whyte and Mackay, which owns the McKinlay brand, were keen to get hold of a bottle.

The billionaire owner of the Glasgow-based firm, Vijay Mallya, flew a case back to Scotland using his private jet.

Whyte & Mackay's master blender Richard Paterson will spend up to six weeks in full laboratory conditions analysing the whisky before reporting back to the Antarctic Heritage Trust.

Dr Mallya said: "Shackleton made history with his travels and adventures, and I am sure we will make history ourselves when we unlock the marvels of these unique 100-year-old time capsules."

Mr Paterson added: "It is an absolute honour to be able to use my experience to analyse this amazing spirit for the benefit of the Trust and the whisky industry."

Shackleton's expedition to the South Pole, which set off from New Zealand in January 1908, was part of the heroic age of exploration.

Scott was already preparing for his journey to the pole - an objective he reached just after his rival Amundsen in 1912, but which cost Scott his own life and that of four comrades.

Shackleton turned back in time to keep all of his party safe.

"A live donkey is better than a dead lion" was how he summed up his attitude.

The expedition's ship had left Cape Royds in the Antarctic hurriedly in March 1909 as winter ice began forming in the sea, with some equipment and supplies, including the whisky, left behind.

The bottles are to be eventually returned to Shackleton's hut, unlikely to ever leave the ice again.

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