Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky is a replica of the whisky found under Earnest Shackleton’s hut in Antarctica, from an expedition in 1907. After some of the original whisky was very carefully thawed out, Master Blender Richard Paterson had the opportunity to try it, after which he created this replica whisky expression. It’s a limited edition of 50,000 bottles, and comes in really cool packaging. Bottled at 47.3% ABV, with no coloring or chill-filtering, it is now available in the U.S. for a pretty steep suggested retail of $200. Shopper’s Vineyard has it for $145, though.
I’ve been dying to get my hands on some of this whisky, but was not having much luck. First, I got an email out of the blue in April from the PR department at Whyte & Mackay saying that a sample was on its way, followed by an “oops” email that they couldn’t ship to the United States. Then I came across an opportunity to split in on a bottle and get 50ml for about $20 (including shipping from Netherlands). Well, I paid the money, but never saw a sample. I guess somebody working for the postal system got thirsty.
The sample I’m reviewing here came from the baddish group, who I believe handles PR for Whyte & Mackay products here in the U.S. Thank you Laura and Patty!
This is a blended malt (single malts only…not a traditional “blend”), with no age statement, but is said to contain malts ranging from 8 years to 30 years. The 30 year portion likely comes from Glen Mhor, which was one of the backbone distilleries for Mackinlay’s back in the day, but was shut down in 1983.
Mackinlay’s Shackleton replica whisky; 2011; 47.3% ABV; $150 – $200Nose: Creme brulee sweetness (vanilla, caramel, and caramelized sugar), light peat smoke (like Highland Park, not Islay), something grassy and a little “wild”, polished wood and dusty books, and little bit of Dalmore chocolate orange. Palate: The sweetness carries through, both caramel and chocolate. There is some nuttiness, and a hint of peat. It has an interesting way of being both easy going and untamed at the same time. Not sure how to describe the untamed part, except that it reminds me of Springbank 10 year. Finish: Sweetness on the tongue, with earthy peat followed by tea and tobacco leaves lingering in the back of the nostrils. A great combination, except it dies off pretty quickly, just leaving some caramel flavor on the tongue.
Comments: The Shackleton replica vatting tastes to me like a high quality blend, composed of Dalmore 12, Highland Park St. Magnus, and a little Springbank 10, all laid down on a bed of good column still grain whisky to smooth things out and make it easy to drink. The Dalmore traits especially stand out, from the manner in which the sweet profile presents itself to the library and tea leaf notes. The smoke and grass combination is where HP St. Magnus comes in. Enjoyable from start to [a little disappointingly short] finish, this ranks as a high B whisky in my personal scoring system. 87 points.
I’m really glad I got a chance to try Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt. It’s a special whisky, for sure. While I mentioned a number of familiar components, the way they’re combined results in a unique and enjoyable profile. I hope Whyte & Mackay ends up making a standard release Mackinlay vatting or blend with as much of this flavor profile as they can squeeze in. I won’t be paying $150 for a bottle of this limited release expression (it’s going on my Christmas wish list, though), but I strongly recommend seeking it out in some manner. Whether that be via full bottle purchase, or through a local whisky club or bottle share.Cheers, Jeff