Malt whisky find

The Column

The Column, The Column-02-01-2012, Volume 8, Issue 2
Pages: 9

An investigation into the Scotch malt whisky brewing practices of over 100 years ago has revealed some unexpected results.

An investigation into the Scotch malt whisky brewing practices of over 100 years ago has revealed some unexpected results.1

The opportunity to conduct this experiment arose when three cases of Mackinlay’s Rare Highland Malt Whisky were excavated from Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1907 expedition base camp hut in Antarctica. Three of the bottles were returned to Scotland in January 2011 where a team from the Whyte and Mackay distillery conducted the first sensory and organoleptic analysis of a Scotch malt whisky distilled in the late 1890s. They analysed the whisky using combined gas chromatography–mass spectrometry and GC-olfactory analysis of fermentation. At a time when Scottish malt whisky was regarded as too peaty and harsh for ordinary consumption, they uncovered a ‘modern’ style of whisky.

The team concluded that their analysis of the excavated whisky changes our understanding of the quality and character of Scotch malt whisky produced in the past centuries.

1. Woods et al., J. Inst. Brew., 117(2), 156–165, (2011).

This story originally appeared in The Column. Click here to view that issue.