Antarctica discovery: How ‘unexpected treasure’ was found buried below ice by researchers


Sir Ernest Shackleton was a British polar explorer who led three expeditions to Antarctica. From 1907 to 1909, Mr Shackleton, alongside three companions, completed the Nimrod expedition, establishing a new record for distance travelled from the South Pole. In 1921, after returning from his final expedition, Mr Shackleton died of a heart attack and was buried in the icy continent – and took his many secrets to the grave with him

However, Bright Side’s 2018 mini-series “Strange Things Found in Antarctica” revealed how researchers made a bizarre discovery more than a century on.

The narrator explained: “Two bottles of excellent Scotch whiskey were hidden in the ice of Antarctica for more than 100 years.

“After archaeologists uncovered this unexpected treasure, they did not remove its ice trap immediately because they were afraid of damaging their findings.

“That’s why they waited for several years until all the necessary tools were delivered to the site.

Antarctica researchers uncovered whiskey below the ice

Antarctica researchers uncovered whiskey below the ice (Image: GETTY/WHYTE & MACKAY)

Ernest Shackleton on his Antarctica expedition

Ernest Shackleton on his Antarctica expedition (Image: GETTY)

Given the original recipe no longer exists this may open a door into history

Richard Paterson

“Only then did they manage to extract the boxes carefully, the whiskey was then defrosted over almost two weeks.

“It turned out that the bottles survived their century-long confinement.”

Bottled in 1898 after the blend was aged 15 years, the Mackinlay bottles were among three crates of Scotch and two of brandy found buried in 2010.

Distiller the, which now owns the Mackinlay brand, chartered a private jet to take the bottles from the Antarctic operations headquarters in the New Zealand city of Christchurch to Scotland for analysis in 2011.

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The recipe for the whisky had been lost, but Whyte & Mackay recreated a limited edition of 50,000 bottles from a sample drawn with a syringe through a cork of one of the bottles. 

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The explorer hid bottles of whiskey in the ice

The explorer hid bottles of whiskey in the ice (Image: WIKI/WHYTE & MACKAY)

Richard Paterson, one of the lead blenders for Whyte & Mackay, told ABC News: “After bringing it to room temperature, I plan on pouring it into a glass, swirling it around and letting the liquid reveal the hidden treasures that were captured in the ice for all these years.

“If the contents can be confirmed, safely extracted and analysed, the original blend may be able to be replicated. 

“Given the original recipe no longer exists this may open a door into history.

“We look forward to working with the Trust to try and replicate the whisky for mutual benefit, allow people to taste a true part of history and be part of what must be the whisky story of the century.”

The revelation comes after Antarctica made headlines more recently when a scientist captured an “amazing” creature alive.

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The bottles were preserved for over 100 years

The bottles were preserved for over 100 years (Image: WHYTE & MACKAY)

The company reproduced the whiskey

The company reproduced the whiskey (Image: WHYTE & MACKAY)

Documentary “The Secrets of Antarctica” revealed how the event played out their YouTube channel.

Scientists Lisa Bryant showed viewers the creature earlier this year, before stating: “It’s beautiful and in really good condition.

“You know we’ve found some fascinating things, but it’s not often they’re bright red which is really cool.

“This one is great and very much still alive.”

Another researcher on board, Julie Hall, explained why the test was so vital before revealing what else they found.

She added: “This is a really important mop net sample for us that’s come from 3,400 metres, it’s the deepest one we’ve ever done.

“In the mop nets we collected all sorts of larger phytoplankton in there and sometimes it has come up literally looking like pea soup.

“But with the larger phytoplankton, they get caught in the net.”



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