Mackinlay’s Highland Malt Whisky, or Shackleton’s

A whisky known by two names, of which Shackleton’s is the most famous. Its actually called Mackinlay’s Highland Malt but I don’t think Whyte and Mackay mourn the wrong name much.

Shackleton's WhiskyThe original (of which this one is a recreation) was found in Ernest Shackleton’s hut on the antarctic about 5 years ago. It wasn’t dug out until 2010 under strict supervision of all kinds of organizations. Richard Paterson, Whyte & Mackay’s charismatic master blender recreated it after carefully taking a sample from one of the defrosted bottles.

I organized a Bottle-Share of this one whisky which filled up quickly to some 40 samples sent out. Unfortunately for some a number of samples turned up broken at the participants’. The Dutch mail, while spending humongous amounts of cash on new stamps, name changes, increasing the price of everything and sacking about half their workforce, thought it necessary to lower what little service they offered and decided to smash quite a number of samples. In the past I have received many a sample packed less carefully without problems, but those times have gone.

What I learnt of this is that I will never send a sample through regular mail again. Parcels are the way to go, since they throw those around less, I guess. Plus you can put WAY more bubble wrap in the boxes!

The tasting notes then. While I admit right away that I am no star in tasting blended whiskies, I’ve done my best… Blended whiskies tend to be quite complex in their flavour profiles because they mix a high number of different malts and grains together.

Mackinlay's Highland MaltAs I pour my sample I immediately get a scent of red apples and ‘blended whisky’. Not bad, mind you, just typical. A light smokiness and some minerals with a hint of vanilla and a touch of wood. The minerals are on the verge of tasting a bit like metal.

The flavour is rather fierce and sharp with a bit of alcohol burn in it. I find it hard to get specific flavours out of it, it feels a bit closed to me. Again a slight hint of apples and vanille. With water I get some smokiness and slate. That’s probably the mineral thing again. A lot smoother with water.

The finish smoothes out quickly but has some spicyness in the back of my throat. A warming flavour of dried apples and cinnamon lingers very long.

A dram to think about, that’s for sure. Although I am not a huge fan, I do find a high quality blend. I think mister Paterson has done a wonderful job of this whisky. I’d love to compare it to the original, but that’s not going to happen.

The packaging is not up for discussion, that’s a straight A without a doubt. The case in which it comes has that real ‘expedition’ feel to it. The extra cork is a nice gimmick and the booklet is very well presented.

I do find it a bit steep at € 130 and, as always with such releases, there is a lot of money spent on marketing and packaging. It looks nice, but in the end its what in the bottle that counts.

Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky, about € 130 at selected retailers.

Nose: 7
Taste: 6
Finish: 8
Overal experience: 8
Price/quality: -1

Total: 28 points

4 stars (only just made 4 stars, though)

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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4 Responses to Mackinlay’s Highland Malt Whisky, or Shackleton’s

  1. Billy says:

    There’s a PDF showing the breakdown of the chemical analysis they did of the original whisky over at this link – They took a lot more in the way of samples than I thought…

  2. Gal Granov says:

    That is a lovely dram, a tad expensive IMHO. 😉

  3. Pingback: A Dalmore masterclass with Richard Paterson | Malt Fascination

  4. Pingback: Benromach 10, 43%, 2014 edition | Malt Fascination

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