Whisky with ice? Scotch malt travels to the South Pole – and back

Whisky lovers can look forward to a dram with a difference – after some special Scotch malt whisky has made a journey to the South Pole, and back again. 

Father and son team Robert and Barney Swan set off for the South Pole in November – on a mission to use zero carbon technology all the way. 

And on their quest – the South Pole Energy Challenge – they also took two small flasks of aged malt, provided by friends from the Ardgowan Distillery, which is building a new distillery on the Ardgowan Estate, west of Glasgow. 

Barney and Robert at the geographic South Pole.

Barney and Robert at the geographic South Pole.

Barney (23) enjoyed one of the flasks as he toasted Hogmanay 140 miles from the journey’s end.

The rest he took to the South Pole, which he and his father reached on January 15. 
And now it is on its way back to Scotland where it will form part of a special edition Ardgowan Expedition bottling.

The premium malt will be blended by Willie Phillips, Chairman of Ardgowan and previous managing director of The Macallan, and will be available for sale in the spring.

“There’s plenty of evidence of explorers drinking whisky at field base in Antarctica,” says Barney.

“But there’s no record of anyone ever having taken any to the South Pole, never mind back again, so we’re pretty certain it’s a world first.”

For Barney the journey took 56 days, 600 nautical miles and as much courage as he could muster. This was an epic journey for a young man with little polar experience but so much knowledge from his 61-year-old father Robert Swan OBE – who is the first person in history to ski to both the North and South Poles. 

“The journey was far tougher than I ever imagined – even after having heard my dad talk about his previous expeditions,” says Barney.

“At the end of each day we were exhausted, and on Hogmanay it was great to look forward to a dram – no doubt the most southerly New Year toast in the world. It tasted so sweet and was really heart-warming. It really lifted our spirits – it was the best dram ever,” Barney says. 

Now his dad Robert plans to return the whisky to Scotland where the Ardgowan Distillery will blend it with a handful of aged malts to make a premium limited-edition Ardgowan Expedition release, which will be made available in the spring.

Distillery CEO Martin McAdam has pledged a proportion of sales to support Barney Swan’s ongoing environmental work.

So connoisseurs will soon be able to sample the only whisky ever to have been to the most southerly point of the globe.

Which is something we can all raise a glass to.

Ardgowan Distillery