Late last year, Whyte & Mackay undertook unfathomable effort to recreate a 100-year-old spirit (using modern stock) based on whisky that Ernest Shackleton took with him on his expedition to the South Pole… and left there when he departed. We covered it extensively in November 2011.
The first run sold out and raised nearly £250,000 for the Antarctic Heritage Trust. Now, the AHT has asked W&M to make another version of The Shackleton to continue funding its conservation efforts in the Antarctic.
Version two is here: “The Journey,” and as a whisky it is meant to be as identical as possible to The Shackleton 1.0. However, buyers of the new whisky have new treats in store for them: The bottle design and label are the same, but the packaging has now been upgraded with period-appropriate accuracy. The Journey comes packed in a sheath of straw, just the way the original was discovered. It’s also packed in a custom hexagonal cardboard box and includes an envelope stuffed with historical documentation regarding Shackleton’s journey.
As noted, the replica spirit inside is not the same as the original Shackleton, but I put The Journey next to what I had left of the original (not much), to see what differences I could find. There are a few.
First, the color of The Journey is a bit — and noticeably — lighter. Nosing them reveals similar notes, but The Shackleton is more citrus-forward, and The Journey offers more distinct smokiness on the nose. They’re both relatively woody, coal-infused, fruity whiskys with distinct banana character, but The Journey feels a bit more island-inflected, saltier with more of a peaty tang. I think I prefer the original blend — which is sweeter and more complex — a bit better. For whatever that’s worth.
Yes, it is still expensive for a blended malt (even though some of the blend is clearly from 30-year or older stock), but let’s be frank: It’s pretty much as cool as a bottle of whisky can get.