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A Highlander and his Books

A Book Review of WHISKY by Aeneas MacDonald
By Frank R. Shaw, FSA SCOT, Atlanta, GA, USA, email: 

Ian Buxton

This is a rare wee book consisting of only 135 pages of pure delight about whisky. (As a courtesy to our cousins across the pond, I will not spell whisky with an “e”!) The author, George Malcolm Thomson, used the pseudonym Aeneas MacDonald “in deference to his mother”. I was presented with this gem by my good friend, Dave McDaniel, a fellow Scot. We are both members of the St. Andrew’s Society of Atlanta. Dave wears a medallion acknowledging that he is the “Keeper of the Bar” for our society. He knows whisky and pours a mean dram!

Ian Buxton, one of the world’s greatest whisky authorities, in my opinion, has a 25-page “Appreciation” or introduction at the beginning of this epistle that, in and of itself, is worth the price of the publication. Mr. Buxton has brought this very readable book, first published in 1930, to our generation of readers and deserves the highest of accolades for doing so. The book cover flap brags, and justifiably so I might add, that this “is what everyone should know about the world’s noblest beverage”. After you’ve read it, you will be hard pressed to disagree.

WHISKY is one of the best works I have reviewed in the six plus years since beginning the column, A HIGHLANDER AND HIS BOOKS. Let me hasten to say this is not a volume “just” for men. Women will find it enjoyable, factual, and full of wit and interesting references, replete with historical anecdotes throughout. Discriminating readers, as well as discriminating drinkers, will find this manuscript of great value. You’ll love the book even if you do not drink whisky!

The name Aeneas MacDonald should resonate with all clan members, not just Clan MacDonald. Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott each play a part in the book. You’ll learn of the so-called “Squirrel” whisky produces an “irresistible desire to climb trees” and “Rabbit” whisky creates an impulse to leap and run.

You wouldn’t spend good money on bad whisky, and you will never, ever spend good money on a better reading whisky book! Need I say more as to how interesting you’ll find this book?

WHISKY by Aeneas MacDonald was re-published by Canongate Books Ltd, 14 High Street, Edinburgh, ISBN I 84195 857 3, and costs 9.99 pounds.    (FRS: 5-21-07)

Aeneas MacDonald

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