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Whisky on ice takes on new meaning

Published: 7:48AM Wednesday July 21, 2010 Source: ONE News

A crate of whisky left in the Antarctic more than a century ago is being restored in public view at Canterbury Museum.
Five crates of rare Mackinlay's whisky was buried below explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton's hut at Cape Royds on Ross Island around 1909. It was only discovered three years ago.

Antarctic New Zealand removed one of those crates in January to restore it.

The whisky is believed to be part of 25 cases donated to Shackleton for the first expedition he led.

Conservators are now patiently thawing the crate in a fridge, hoping to eventually extract up to 12 bottles of whisky.

The temperature of the crate will be raised from minus 20 degrees to zero degrees, after which it will be treated, assessed, and the bottles removed.

However Lizzie Meek from the Antarctic Heritage Trust said there are no promises on what the process could deliver.

"It's 100 years old - what does it look like, what's inside there? We don't know yet. Is there going to be anything left?"

According to exhibition manager Stephen Ruscoe, interest in the discovery has been large enough to justify the public viewing.

"There's huge world media interest in this event and it would be a shame to do this behind closed doors," he said.

The restoration has drawn particular attention in Scotland, where the makers of the original whisky want to get a sample so they could try to recreate the recipe.

However, Mackinlay's will not know if they are able to get the sample until the job at hand is complete.

Once its contents are analysed at the museum, the whisky crate will be returned to its home on the ice.