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The Broderick Brothers

August 5, 2017

In the Speyside valley, there lived a whisky brewer by name of Broderick. He was a kindly sort, if somewhat stupid, and a morbid alcoholic. He had few achievements to boast of. Namely: his whisky, his capacity to consume it and lastly, his three sons - Alasdair, Brochan and Struan, who were as unlike as brothers could be. But it was Broderick’s dying wish to leave his legacy in their hands. And so, as the last of the laboured breaths left his father’s throat, Alasdair rode in to take over the distillery. He was ambitious and aggressive in his pursuits of power and money. He bragged that under his guidance, the distillery would be more profitable than his late-father could ever have bourn.

 

But when the time came to bottling the whisky, his greed outweighed his efforts. He had been robbed by the Angels’ Share. Displeased by the quantity of remaining nectar, he hired a thief to sneak into a neighbouring distillery and steal theirs. He mixed the stolen casks with his own, bottling and selling the mixture for double the profits. Two years later, Alasdair was drunkenly bragging of his riches when the thief once again came upon him. He asked only that Alasdair might share in some of his ill-gained wealth, lest the thief share the secret behind Alasdair's success. In reply, Alasdair took out his pistol and shot the thief clear through the hand, so that he might never steal again. Then, drunkenly, he stumbled into his chambers. While he slept, the thief snuck into the house. He stabbed Alasdair deep in the heart with his one good hand, took a bottle of the whisky from the first brother’s cellar, and ran into the night.

 

And so it was that Brochan came to take over the distillery. He was a gentle man, but his kindness made him passive and weak. And he was governed by the vindictive mind of his wife. She was a soulless woman, with four teeth and even fewer kind thoughts. As they reached Broderick’s distillery, the wife hissed. An ancient plum tree towered in the garden, blooming with its glorious, springtime fruits. The wife ordered her husband to cut it down, for fear of her morbid allergies. Under her gaze, Brochan hacked the tree to the stump. But when he made to throw the fruits into the river, she paused him. For in place of a heart, his wife had a wallet. She showed Brochan a cask of his late brother’s whisky, and to the mix they added the plums. Soon it was bottled and sold.

 

For a year, they lived comfortably in symbiotic hatred of one another, propped up by the plum whisky profits. But as springtime dawned again, the bottles dried up and it was time to adulterate another cask. Brochan and his wife stood by the decaying stump of the plum tree, and the wife furiously derided him for his stupidity in killing it. In a moment of bottled anger, Brochan smite his wife with their last bottle of plum whisky. As the fire stilled in his wife’s eyes, wrecked with guilt, the second brother hanged himself from an apple tree.

 

On the news of the untimely deaths of his brothers, Struan came at last to the distillery. Before then, he had lived in ignorance of whisky, and had no fascinations with the drinking or procuring of it. But, of the three, he was the most clever. He was a peat farmer, and lived on the islands with his wife and daughter. Faced with the dilapidated distillery, he felt his father’s spirit dwindle. In the outhouse, he came across one final cask of his eldest brother’s whisky. To the mixture he added his peat. Carefully, he bottled all the whisky from this final cask, and with the profits he restored the ruined distillery. He left it to the care of a trust, and returned with his family to the farm.

 

But it was here he was arrested for the crimes of his brothers. The thief, finally falling foul of fate, had been caught. In exchange for his life, he gave the name of 'Broderick' as an accomplice. By now, that name held the weight of all the thief’s villainy, one dead wife and one bloodied stump for a hand. Faced with such a catalogue, the noose all but grinned.

 

Struan went without disorder to prison, where he waited, patiently. On the evening prior his execution, he begged the guard of one last nightcap. Sympathetic, and never one to turn down a whisky, the guard obliged. Struan slipped a quarter of a sleeping agent he once gave to an ailing sheep into the guard’s glass. They toasted to a clean snap of the neck, and the guard knocked back both whiskies. While the guard snored, Struan stole the keys from his belt and strode out of the prison. In apology, he left a final bottle of the peat-ed whisky, and fastened the loop of the keys around its neck. The third brother returned home to his farm, his family and a copiously large glass of gin.

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