Whisky by Aeneas MacDonald


  1. Whisky

Aeneas MacDonald was the pseudonym of George Malcolm Thomson (1899 - 1996), then an Edinburgh-based writer and journalist. He adopted the non de plume in deference to his mother, who was a strict teetotaller! (The original Aeneas MacDonald was one of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s earliest supporters, the so-called ‘Men of Moidart’, who acted as banker to the Jacobite troops during the 1745 Jacobite Rising. Thomson himself was an ardent Scottish nationalist though ironically he subsequently spent most of his life in London.)


MacDonald’s “Whisky” is today regarded as perhaps the earliest modern book on whisky and certainly the first to treat the subject from the point of view of the drinker. It provides a passionate and energetic defence of the interests of the consumer against the producers and, well ahead of its time, promotes single malt whisky over blends.

Though in a long career Thomson wrote some 20 other books, and was appointed OBE in 1990 for services to journalism, this was his one and only publication on whisky. However, it will outlive his other works. MacDonald/Thomson was a close friend of Neil Gunn and influenced his 1935 classic “Whisky and Scotland”.

“Whisky” remained out of print and all but unobtainable until a new edition in facsimile with an introduction by Ian Buxton was published by Canongate Press of Edinburgh in 2006. Leading whisky writers all praise the book: Dave Broom considers it “the finest whisky book ever” and Charles MacLean has written of it “If I could take only one whisky book to a desert island, it would be Aeneas MacDonald’s Whisky”.

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