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Shackleton's whisky stash yields more than expected

Master blender expects the hundred-year-old Scotch to be heavier and smokier than today's whisky.

“It’s not just that a case of whisky has been found, that’s so bloody boring,” Paterson said.

Scottish whisky author Charles MacLean agrees. Hundred-year-old bottles of whisky aren’t terribly rare. Three or four go to auction each year, he said. He couldn’t speculate what a bottle of this whisky would be worth and said the price will be set by how much someone is willing to pay.

“The Shackleton provenance is, of course, priceless,” he wrote from his home in Edinburgh.

MacLean explained that Charles Mackinlay was one of the earliest and most prominent Scotch blenders, and Paterson is one of today’s most respected blenders, having earned himself the nickname “the Nose.” So a recreation by Paterson of Mackinlay’s whisky would attract interest.

It seems possible Paterson will get his chance, despite an international treaty that governs all historic artifacts found in Antarctica stipulating that they remain in place unless they need to be removed from the continent for conservation reasons. Indeed, Shackleton’s hut is maintained as a museum, with its 5,000 artifacts on display for the roughly 900 tourists who come through annually and interested history buffs who tour it online.

Nigel Watson, executive director of Antarctic Heritage Trust, said, “it’s not beyond the realms of possibility” that Paterson would get some of the whisky, but the organization is not rushing toward a decision. Its first priority is to safely conserve the crates, bottles and liquid. The boxes are in varied conditions, some of them cracked in spots with ice built up inside. The group expects it will take a couple months or so to come up with a conservation plan.

“They’ve been under the hut for 100 years,” Fastier said. “I think another couple months won’t make a difference.”