Page last updated at 09:56 GMT, Friday, 5 February 2010

Shackleton's whisky recovered from South Pole ice

Hut used by Shackleton
The crates of whisky were found under a hut built and used by Shackleton

Five crates of Scotch whisky and brandy belonging to the polar explorer Ernest Shackleton have been recovered after more than 100 years in the ice.

They were buried beneath Shackleton's Antarctic hut, built in 1908 for a failed expedition to the South Pole.

Some of the crates have cracked and ice has formed inside, which means experts will face a delicate task in trying to extract the contents.

The ice-bound crates were first discovered three years ago.

The master blender at whisky company Whyte and Mackay said the find was a "gift from the heavens" for whisky lovers.

Richard Paterson, whose firm supplied the Mackinlay's whisky for Shackleton, said: "If the contents can be confirmed, safely extracted and analysed, the original blend may be able to be replicated.

The unexpected find of the brandy crates... are a real bonus
Al Fastier
New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust

"Given the original recipe no longer exists this may open a door into history."

The alcohol was removed from the ice by the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust, which had initially believed there to be just two crates.

Al Fastier from the trust said: "To our amazement we found five crates, three labelled as containing whisky and two labelled as containing brandy.

"The unexpected find of the brandy crates, one labelled Chas Mackinlay & Co and the other labelled The Hunter Valley Distillery Limited, Allandale, are a real bonus."

Ernest Shackleton. Copyright Shackleton Foundation
Shackleton's expedition to reach the South Pole was unsuccessful

Mr Fastier said the trust was confident the crates contained intact alcohol, given that liquid could be heard when the crates were moved.

The smell of whisky in the surrounding ice also indicated full bottles of spirits were inside, albeit that one or more might have broken.

Shackleton's expedition ran short of supplies on their long trek to the South Pole from Cape Royds in 1907-1909 and they eventually fell about 100 miles (160 kilometres) short of their goal.

Shackleton's expedition sailed from Cape Royds hurriedly in 1909 as winter ice began forming in the sea, forcing them to leave some equipment and supplies, including the whisky, behind. However, no lives were lost.

The pole was first reached in 1911 by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen.

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