Bottling Antarctica

First, there’s Shackleton’s Whisky. When a crate of the Rare Old Highland Malt was discovered beneath Shackleton’s hut at Cape Royds, and subsequently replicated, it became a media sensation. This is top of the list because  think it’s a darn good story, some of the proceeds went back to the NZ Antarctic Heritage Trust (so it was also for a good cause), and also because I think it was delicious!

Whisky has a long association with Antarctica, as we have seen, but that connection continues to linger. Glenfiddich’s sponsorship of the 2013 “Walking with the Wounded” trek to the South Pole is a case in point. I’m going to have a field day with the promotional material for this one: modern day heroes walking in the footsteps of heroes from the “Heroic Era”; photographs of masculine figures battling against the blizzard mimic those taken by Hurley and Ponting; and the theme of extremity throughout. If you didn’t already associate whisky with tough men, after seeing these adverts there’s really no mistaking it.


Godet Antarctica was created as a tribute to the founder Jean-Jacques Godet’s 2008 trip to the continent on board a small yacht. Promotional material describes how in honour of the accomplishment “godet has created a unique cognac inspired by the purity and beauty of Antarctica.” Purity! Beauty! Yes, upon reading those lines my spider sense were sure tingling, as “Purity” is one of the main themes I am looking at in my Antarctic adverts.

Mawson's Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
The Australian hero Sir Douglas Mawson does get a mention too, in a story than spans 2 centuries. Mawson took down Yalumba wines with him to The Home of The Blizzard some 100 years ago, and the company used photos of his men in their promotion material. The association continues to this day, with a line of Yalumba wines named for Mawson and his voyages, and featuring images of his ship and the man himself…

This image of a banner for Cascade beers, as photographed on Macquarie Island, is another favourite of mine. Living in Hobart, Cascade is out local brew, so this photo has pride of place above my desk at work!

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 8.36.07 AM

Speaking of beer, there’s actually a brew with the brand name “Antarctic” – the refreshing chilled drink is supposed to evoke the pure fresh coolness of the continent itself. Symbolic link between product and continent? Tick. Not all links are symbolic, though. Finally we come to two drinks that are not just associated with Antarctica via a narrative or marketing campaign – instead, they actually contain a slice of the continent. First, there’s the cognac made in memory of the MS Fram that contains ice from both the Arctic and Antarctic. Nail Ale beer was also brewed with ice brought back from Antarctica. The political agenda doesn’t stop with the question of whether or not this constitutes mineral prospecting (ice, after all, is classified as a mineral) – in the second case, the water was melted, brewed to beer, and sold to raise money for the controversial Sea Shepherd organisation. This scenario contains echoes of krill oil advertising: the idea of purity is associated with the product because of where it comes from, but the paradox is that in order to create the product, resources had to be taken from that same “pristine” environment. This is where things start to get really interesting for an academic like me!

I could go on, but the main idea to take away is that when it comes to Antarctica and alcohol, you could easily fill your drinks cabinet with bottles that have a southern connection alone. Whether or not they are any good is surely a matter of opinion, but with such an eclectic range, there’s sure to be something to pique the fancy.


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