Highlands & Islands

Shackleton whisky to be analysed at Invergordon

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Media captionRichard Paterson said the whisky will reveal "'what the distillation practices were in the 19th century"

Whisky which accompanied explorer Ernest Shackleton and his crew to the Antarctic in the 1900s is to be analysed at a Highlands distillery.

The scotch was buried beneath a hut used during their unsuccessful expedition to reach the South Pole.

Five cases were dug up last year and included Mackinlay whisky, a brand owned by Glasgow distiller Whyte and Mackay.

One of the bottles will undergo tests at the firm's Invergordon distillery.

Master blender Richard Paterson will spend up to six weeks analysing, nosing, tasting and "deconstructing" the whisky.

Mr Paterson extracted a sample of the whisky on Tuesday afternoon, using a syringe to avoid damaging the bottle.

He said: "My initial reaction is 'very, very interesting but I must wait and see'."

The master blender said it was a "fabulous honour" to sample the scotch after a century on the rocks.

"It's a beautiful colour. It's that lovely rich golden colour and what's more important at this early stage, it's beautifully clear.

"It's telling you that it's not contaminated -- that's very important."

"This is a whisky that's been kept stable for these number of years and I think when Sir Ernest Shackleton tasted this it was a great honour for him as it is an honour for me too."

Whyte and Mackay's billionaire owner, Vijay Mallya, flew a case of whisky back to Scotland using his private jet.

He said: "It is a fabulous story. Shackleton is considered a hero, a great British explorer, and to us it might well be a huge marketing opportunity."

The opened whisky will be handled in full laboratory conditions before the case is returned to the care of the Antarctic Heritage Trust.

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