Thursday, December 29, 2016

Lassie's top 12 countdown for 2016 - Number 9 Great uncle Donnie's gift

On March 25th, Donald MacKenney passed away at the age of 82. He was Graham's great uncle. A bachelor who never married or had children of his own. He loved to cook, he loved to tell corny jokes and he loved his nieces and nephews dearly. Uncle Donnie as we called him, was the patriarch of the MacKenney clan. 

Now, those of you who know me know that I'm a huge proponent of opening your whiskies now, while you are here and able to enjoy them. I always cringe when I hear people say: "Oh, I'm saving that one for a special occasion". Why do we need special occasions to open some of these? Isn't the fact that we are here, in the present, enough? Those were the questions I always pondered in my head but never said out loud. 

In late April when we were helping clean out uncle Donnie's house, we found several old bottles of liquor in the basement. George (Graham's dad) looked at a few of them and asked if Graham and I wanted an old ceramic crock of Ballantine's that was tucked away under the bar. Apparently, Donnie had been holding on to it for a special occasion. I shook my head... Another example of the "special occasion" that never came. Graham examined the crock and thanked his dad. When we got it home, we examined it a bit closer. It was filthy, covered in years of dirt and neglect. We did a bit of research and discovered that it was from the 1960's but we had no idea what the condition of the liquid was like inside. 

Donnie's was cleaned, everything was gone and the house was ready to be sold. Life... moved on. I went to Scotland, spent an amazing 3 weeks there. Graham stayed home and got the boat ready for launch. The next thing we knew it was the 3rd week of June and father's day was around the corner. We invited everyone over for a family dinner. George, Micky, Colin and his fiance Stephanie. After the meal, Graham went downstairs and brought up the Ballantine's. He poured everyone a dram and then surprised us with the whiskies. Jokingly Graham warned us this could be most horrible and so we raised our glasses to the memory of Donnie. In silence we drammed. George had a few tears in his eyes, which of course caused the rest of us to get a bit emotional as well. My father in law took very good care of his uncle in those last years of his life. It's what family does and I could not be prouder to be part of this one. The whisky, by the way, was absolutely sublime. 

Donald MacKenney
We all took turns telling stories about Donnie that night, we laughed and we truly enjoyed this very old and special whisky. I had a bit of an epiphany. I realized that even though I'm a staunch believer in opening and enjoying my whiskies, we would have never had the chance to try the Ballantine's the way we did if Donnie was of the same mindset. The reality is, the special occasion in this case, was Donnie himself.

I will likely never drink all the whiskies we have in our collection, mind you we will try our best ;) But I do know, that there is some comfort in knowing there just might be a few bottles left over that will be opened and toasted in my own honour when I leave this place we call earth. 

As always, my thought is share those whiskies with the people you love now, but... now I'll add: Maybe hold on to a few just in case you know people who might appreciate raising a toast in your honour once you pass.

Cheers and can't wait to tell you what lies ahead for the rest of the top 12... 



  1. Awesome as always. You are a very talented writer and you keep me hanging on every word. I find myself excited to see what comes next. So keep up your amazing talent.

    Brad. B

  2. this strong family should be an example of what needs to be done in the time of kingdom of electronics. Our enjoyment of life becomes virtual, like the life itself. Thanks Lassie for sharing this delightful piece of real family life. elPolako