More Family History

Angus’ Neighbor

It is important to know our roots, to understand how we became the people we are. After exploring my family history, I know why I turned out the way I did. Don’t blame me. It’s in my genes.

My distant Scottish ancestor Angus MacGregor Buchanan Campbell Guthrie McNeely invented whiskey. The reason he had so many names is that no clan wanted to keep him around very long and he had to go from one to the other. He had a habit of stealing things. Nowadays he would be diagnosed with kleptomania. Back then, he was just a common thief. He finally wound up with the McNeelys, who were a small clan and needed a man to herd the sheep. Nobody who was already in the clan wanted the job.

Because he didn’t want to be kicked out of yet another clan, Angus began to confine his thievery to things belonging to some McDonalds who lived nearby. He was especially fond of sneaking over there at night during harvest time and stealing rye, from which his wife would make his favorite marble rye bread, so good with grape jam.

The McDonalds were not as stupid as Angus thought they were, and they came after him one night with swords, clubs, lighted torches and frying pans. Angus quickly shoved his latest haul of rye into a barrel behind an outhouse, and invited the McDonalds to search his place. Of course, they found nothing, but before they left they gave Angus a good thrashing, just in case he was guilty. They figured this would save them a second trip.

Four months later, after he had recovered from the beating, Angus went to check on the rye in the barrel. He was disappointed to find that some water had gotten into it and the grain had turned to a mushy mash. He had always wondered what would happen if he boiled mushy rye, so he tried it. He didn’t want to get caught, so he set it up to make the steam go through a tube, into a bottle.

The mash tasted awful, but when he took a sip of the re-liquified steam, he was pleasantly surprised. He took many sips.

Two days later, his friends found him, lying on the ground with a huge smile on his face, singing an off-key song and asking for his mother.

That is how Scotch whiskey was discovered. The world owes many thanks to Angus MacGregor Buchanan … whatever!

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6 thoughts on “More Family History”

  1. I tried to explore my family history but the prison records don’t go back that far.

    1. No. That was Angus’ brother. The two of them didn’t get along, after the brother convinced Angus he could save money by sealing his bottles of whiskey with cellophane tape. Angus never got over it.

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