Shackleton’s McKinlay Whisky in South Africa – Scotch Whisky News

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This last weekend I happened to be in Cape Town when I was told the Bascule Whisky Bar at the Cape Grace Hotel had a bottle of the Mackinlays (Shackleton’s) replica in stock having been flown in personally by the hotel’s UK agent. On Sunday morning I was there and Bradley, the bar manager, had the as yet unopened bottle ready. On looking for the (normal?) tear strip to open it and not finding anything it crossed my mind it might be a screw cap so a knife was used to cut the foil neatly off.

Then the penny dropped, we were handling a bottle ostensibly made prior to 1907 and whilst screw tops were in use for foodstuffs since the middle 19th century they were probably not used on whisky bottles then. And so it proved, when the foil was removed a cork sealed the bottle but different to the modern corks, this had a thin flat top unlike the thicker plastic  coated tops of today. What was most interesting was, as this thin lip could easily break with continued use the bottle came provided with an alternative cork, a robust round V shaped stopper contained in it’s own little hessian bag. What attention to detail!

The whisky itself was excellent, pale gold color, very good legs, floral nose, no peat, neat it tasted of biscuit,cereal and brown sugar. With water the sweetness became more apparent, honey, nuttiness and hints of nutmeg. The finish was long and lingering and overall I gave it 88 points, not bad for a blended malt.

Sadly we will not be seeing  much of this here as the bottle is 70cl and our regulations stipulate 75cl but I have heard rumours that one of our liquor chains has put in an order so perhaps W&M are producing a run in the bigger size.

Anyway it was an auspicious moment for me especially as the hotel is convinced I was the first person in SA to taste this whisky here and be that true or not I enjoyed the occasion.

One final question, on the label is a red circle with the letters ML inside and they are also on the box. What do they represent, surely not the name of the producers because that would be CM – do you perhaps know the answer?

Cheers
Joe Barry – South Africa

Update – 31/05/2011 – In my article on Shackletons Mackinlay whisky (30th May) I queried the significance of the letters ML on the bottle. Nobody could tell me so I contacted Rob Bruce, PR man at W&M, who advised they stood for Mackinlay Liqueur but after 1949 (when liqueur was not allowed) it was changed to Mackinlay Legacy! Interesting, no wonder no-one knew! –  Joe

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‘Vignettes – Moments in Whisky’ is a new category on Whisky Intelligence and Joe’s article in the very first. Please feel free to submit your own vignette and maybe we’ll publish it!

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