In August of 1907, Irish Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton and his crew set sail on their 200 ton-ship, the “Nimrod,” in an attempt to be the first expedition to reach the geographic South Pole. Shackleton and his small team were met with many hardships, but also achieved many “firsts,” including climbing Mount Erebus, the world’s southernmost volcano.
After sailing for nearly three months, the crew was only 97 nautical miles from the South Pole. Although their intended destination was virtually within sight, the “Nimrod” turned back because of equipment failures and a falling out of the crew.
During the British 1907-1909 Nimrod Expedition, Shackleton’s crew constructed a base at Cape Royds, complete with stables for 15 Manchurian ponies and nine sled dogs, and a garage for the first motorcar on the continent, a four-cylinder, 15-horsepower “Arrol Johnston.”
As Shackleton left Antarctica to return home, he said, “We all turned out to give three cheers and to take a last look at the place where we had spent so many happy days. The hut was not exactly a palatial residence… but, on the other hand, it had been our home for a year that would always live in our memories.”
The team’s beloved hut was restored over ten years ago as part of the Ross Sea Heritage Restoration Project. During the restoration, workers discovered five crates of frozen whiskey and brandy that were rumored to have been left behind by Shackleton and his crew. The crates were carefully removed from the ice and preserved.
Conservators in New Zealand are slowly thawing the bottles from one crate, hoping to sample some of the Whyte & Mackay whiskey and recreate the recipe. After conservation efforts conclude, the crates will be returned to their original home – a frozen homage to their original owners.