Thursday, June 13, 2013

New release - Mackinlay's 'The Journey'

Whyte & Mackay have recreated a second edition of their popular Mackinlay's whisky.  This new version is called Mackinlay's The Journey and was launched back in Autumn 2012 in New York, although it was only officially released and available to buy this Spring. The original Shackleton Blend was released in early 2011.  It was a recreation of whisky which had been specially created for Shackleton's failed expedition to the Antarctic in 1907/08.  It had been found by explorers in a hut used by Shackleton's team as a base, and had laid undiscovered under the ice for a century.

The move to recreate another edition of the whisky was prompted by the Antarctic Heritage Trust, the charity which discovered the whisky under the ice, after a plea for funding. Therefore, Whyte & Mackay are donating money from the sale of each bottle of The Journey towards the AHT, and hope to raise in the region of £500,000.  This is in addition to the £250,000 already raised for the organisation from sales of the first release.  The money will go towards conservation, research and education.

This time the packaging sees the bottle wrapped in straw, much as the original bottles found in Shackleton's hut in the Antarctic were. This is then contained in a hexagonal box similar to those used by museums to ship precious artefacts. Whyte & Mackay's Master Blender Richard Paterson has created 100,000 bottles for this second edition and it is now available in key markets including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Scandinavia, the USA and the travel retail sector. It is bottled at 47.3% ABV and should cost around the £100-105 mark.

To read more about the whisky and story,  please visit the dedicated website If you would like to read our review of the first edition of the whisky, which we voted in our Top 10 whiskies of 2011, then please click here.  Before we get to our tasting notes for The Journey, here is a short video with Richard Paterson talking about the new expression.

Our tasting notes 
The colour is a pale golden yellow and the nose is initially light, fresh and a little closed. Once it starts to open up, there is a sweet grainy aroma that develops first and this is quickly followed by some lovely honey and vanilla notes.  It feels clean and fresh, and this is accentuated by some slightly bitter earthy peat smoke.  There are also aromas of green apple, lemon zest, oats, white chocolate and a hint of nutmeg.

On the palate, the whisky again feels initially light, fresh and closed.  As it settles in the mouth, the characteristics begin to warm up.  The green apple and lemon zest appear first and remain prominent throughout.  There are plenty of vanilla and honey notes, along with some custard powder and sweet malty cereals - the combination was reminiscent of an apple danish pastry.  The smoke begins in the background but moves more to the fore as time goes by.  This has a slightly bitter tobacco-like edge to it.  Other notes include hints of sugary toffee, fudge, white chocolate, pineapple, menthol and nutmeg.

The smokiness really kicks in during the finish and again has that earthy and slightly musty tobacco-like edge to it.  This makes the whisky on the dry side and pleasantly mouth watering.  These elements are counteracted by notes of honey, cereals, tangy lemon and icing sugar.  The combination is very good.

What's the verdict?
They say that sequels are never as good as the original and it is difficult to say whether this is better, worse or similar to the first edition.  Also, how many people know whether it tastes like the 1907 version that was found under the ice?  Answer - not many.  We will have to dig out the remainder of the sample that we have squirreled away of the original expression and compare it.  Maybe that is an idea for a future blog post ...?

In its own right The Journey is a lovely, well made whisky that shows plenty of character once it begins to open up.  It is enjoyable and easy drinking, plus has a great back story to it and donates money to research and education.  We think that Whyte & Mackay's predecessors would be pleased with this whisky, as would Ernest Shackleton.

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