Last year, the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust discovered several crates of whiskey and brandy under the floorboards of the base-camp hut at Cape Royds from which the explorer Ernest Shackleton set out in his failed attempt to reach the South Pole in 1908.
On Monday, three bottles of Mackinlay’s whisky – for which the original recipe is long lost – were returned to the maker, White and Mackay in Scotland for analysis.
The whisky is believed to have been bottled in Scotland in 1896 or 1897, making it among the oldest in the world.
Richard Paterson, Whyte and Mackay’s master blender, said the analysis would be “for the benefit of the whisky industry”.
“Never in the history of our industry have we had a century-old bottle of whisky stored in a natural fridge and subjected to some of the harshest conditions on this planet,” he said.
“It is an absolute honour to be able to use my experience to analyse this amazing spirit.”
For the next six weeks, the whisky will be analysed, nosed, and tasted in full laboratory conditions.