As you may have heard, 11 bottles of Mackinlay’s scotch were recently found in their original crate, buried under the ice deep in the Antarctic. The bottles were part of the provisions of Ernest Shackleton’s Antartic Polar Expedition of 1907. The crate was frozen solid, but the scotch apparently survived. They don’t know; they haven’t even tasted it yet. The whole kit and caboodle was bought by the current owner of Whyte & Mackay, the distiller that bought Mackinlay’s some time ago. Now they’re running tests. I guess it would be a big embarrassment if they opened it up and found out it tasted like shit. On the other hand, what if it’s really good?
Consider the possibility -if it works in Antartica, why not in Thornhill, Ontario? Now I haven’t found any 114-year-old scotch lately but let me recount something that’s happened to me only twice before, and happened to me at party last week.
A bit of background first. Ever since I was only enough to know, at my grandfather’s house, my father’s house, and at the houses of other Jewish friends and relatives, you could always find a bottle of scotch. There it was on a shelf on behind the bar, or locked away in liquor cabinet, waiting for the occasion when ‘company’ came over, usually suggesting a gentile friend or business associate would drop by and ask to be served scotch. None of our Jewish friends ever would; you might sooner hear them ask if we were having camel for dinner. But the scotch was there, sealed in stasis –waiting to be discovered.
My wife’s aunt presented me with such a ‘discovery’ when she was doing some cleaning around her house about 10 years ago. It was a bottle of 12-year-old Pinch with an unbroken seal and a Canada customs stamp from 1957. I think I showed some restraint, but the bottle lasted no more than a month or two. Pinch, despite its exotic looking ‘pinched’ triangular bottle is nothing more than a good solid blended scotch to me, but I’m no expert. This bottle was pretty s-m-o-o-t-h-e though.
So, back to the party, where my friend unveils a bottle of Park Lane (another good blended scotch) from his mother’s house that was 12 years old when it was purchased in 1961, making it 62-years-old now. The seal was cracked and we started pouring. Held to the light, the scotch, like the Pinch before it, was a beautiful clear dark amber colour – not cloudy at all. It was so mellow that it even my wife, not one for strong-tasting booze, could drink it. I didn’t give her very much. What a find! Unfortunately, hiding the secret was out of the question. In fact another person at the party was already consuming their second glass, and appeared determined to drain the bottle. I had one more, and reminded him that we were both driving. The following day I offered to acquire the balance from the host (a non-scotch drinker). “Name your price’, I said.
I make this same offer to any of you. Search your cupboards, visit an aunt or an uncle. Ask them for a scotch. If they have to blow dust off the bottle, call me…