Shackleton's Scotch found in ice

Five crates of Scotch whisky buried under Antarctic ice for more than 100 years have been recovered by a heritage team restoring explorer Ernest Shackleton's hut.

New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust team leader Al Fastier says he believes some bottles are still intact.

The whisky was made by McKinlay and Co and drinks group Whyte & Mackay has asked for a sample to carry out tests with a view to re-launching the defunct brand.

Ice cracked some of the bottles that had been left there in 1909, but the restorers said they are confident the five crates contain intact bottles "given liquid can be heard when the crates are moved".

New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust team leader Al Fastier said the team thought there were two whisky and brandy crates and were amazed to find five.

Mr Fastier said restoration workers found the crates under the hut's floorboards in 2006, but they were too deeply embedded in ice to be dislodged.

The New Zealanders agreed to drill the ice to try to retrieve some bottles, although the rest must stay under conservation guidelines agreed to by 12 Antarctic Treaty nations. Mr Fastier said: "The unexpected find of the brandy crates, one labeled Chas. Mackinlay & Co and the other labeled The Hunter Valley Distillery Limited Allandale (Australia) are a real bonus."

Ice has cracked some of the crates and formed inside them. Mr Fastier said that would make extracting the contents delicate, but the trust would decide how to do so in coming weeks.

Richard Paterson, master blender at Whyte and Mackay, whose company supplied the Mackinlay's whisky for Shackleton, described the find as "a gift from the heavens for whisky lovers".

Shackleton's expedition ran short of supplies on its long ski trek to the South Pole from the northern Antarctic coast in 1907/09 and turned back about 100 miles short of its goal. The expedition sailed away in 1909 as winter ice formed, leaving behind supplies, including the whisky and brandy.