Mackinlay's Shackleton The Journey Review

“An Expensive Journey Through the Past”

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands (Mainly)
Brand: Mackinlay's Shackleton The Journey
Type: Blended Malt Whisky
Bottled by: Whyte & Mackay
Age: NAS  
ABV: 47.3%
Whisky Review # 556

Colour: Golden Straw

Nose: My first impressions are Dirty Floral Peat, Diesel, Tar, Ashes and Manure. Certainly different from our modern Highland Malts. It's very interesting to smell peated Dalmore. I also pick up light Jura influences. The Journey needs time in the glass to reveal additional Aromas. After a while I find Grass, Straw, Toasted Cereals, Dried Fruits, Nuts, Vanilla, Citrus Peel, Mandarin Juice, Licorice, light Vanilla, Overripe Banana, Toffee, Pineapple Jam, Orchard Fruit, Aniseed and light Spices. It's all a little Edgy, Dirty and Sharp. Unfortunately, the Alcohol is not fully integrated. It somehow smells "old" and authentic but I can't say The Journey smells extremely agreeable. I certainly was expecting a bit more.      
Taste: The Delivery is on the Thin side despite the adequate ABV. On the Palate, the Journey is Bitter Sweet. I find Dirty Peat, Factory Smoke, Citrus Peel, Oak, Dried Fruits, Nuts, Caramel, Toffee, Malt Biscuits, light Honey, Straw, Licorice, Pepper, Nutmeg, Menthol, Dried Herbs, Espresso and Dark Chocolate.       

Finish: Quite Long, Bitter Sweet, Medium-Spicy and Dry towards the end. The Journey retains its Rough and Dirty character until the end. I find Toasted Grain, light Honey, Caramel, light Vanilla, Dirty Earth, Factory Smoke, Lemon Peel, Peanut Butter, Dried Herbs, Grass, Grapefruit, Orchard Fruit, Tobacco, Aniseed, Oak, Pepper, Nutmeg and Menthol. I detect a light Metallic Off-Note.    

The Journey does not improve with added Water. 

Rating: 81.5    

Nose: 20 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 20.5

General Remarks: Let's start with a little history that explains the release of this very special Blended malt:

In June 1907, the Glen Mhor distillery in Inverness, Scotland, received an order from the famous explorer Ernest Shackleton for 46 cases of Mackinlay's Rare Old Highland Malt, one of the more indulgent items included in the provisions designed to sustain his British Antarctic Expedition of 1907.

In 2007, a few crates of this Whisky were discovered in Antarctica. The New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust requested Master Blender Richard Paterson to try and recreate this Blend. He succeeded and raised over 300.000 US Dollars for Charity in the process. This Blend was called Mackinkay's Shackleton Rare Old Highland Malt "The Discovery".

In 2012, Paterson was approached again by the Charity and Ernest's grand-daughter Alexandra to produce a second edition of the Blended Malt, this time to coincide with the first authentic re-enactment of Shackleton's Antarctic Survival Journey of 1916. It's called Tom Jarvis' Shackleton Epic. Paterson accepted this new challenge as well and created "The Journey", using a rare 1980 cask of Glen Mhor, some peated Dalmore and malt from a/o Glenfarclas, Mannochmore, Tamnavulin, Ben Nevis, Aultmore, Fettercairn, Old Pulteney and Jura.

Unfortunately I have not yet been able to secure a sample of The Discovery, so I won't be able to compare the two expressions. For The Journey, Richard used whiskies in the 8 to 30 years range with Glen Mhor being the oldest. Both Ex-Sherry and (mostly) Ex-Bourbon casks were used in the process. Prices vary a lot depending on where you live. The average price is around 110 US$ (09/16). Bottle and Packaging are nicely done and based on the original.  

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Disappointing  

Conclusion: I know that this Whisky raised money for a good purpose and I'm sure that Richard Paterson put in a lot of time and effort. And I have to admit that there is an air of authenticity around. It smells and tastes "dirty" from start to finish. I can really imagine that Whisky tasted somewhat rough like this at the beginning of the 1900's. So in that aspect, the Journey gives us at least an idea. However, I also believe that a lot of young, indifferent Malt went into the Blend, leaving it Edgy, Sharp and without much balance. As such it is way too expensive for what it really offers despite the nice packaging and the fascinating story. Many people have commented on the fact that The Discovery was much better so I must try and secure a sample of that one to be able to compare the two Mackinlay's Shackleton expressions.   

Jan van den Ende                                                               September 5, 2016

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