Mr. Alexander MacDougall Ardbeg's Reel
X:1 T:Mr. Alexander MacDougall Ardbeg’s Reel C:Alexander Mackay M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel B:Alexander Mackay – A Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Slow Tunes… B:Chiefly composed by Alexander Mackay, Musician Islay (c. 1822, p. 13) B: https://digital.nls.uk/special-collections-of-printed-music/archive/104487947 N:Dedicated to the Right Hon. Lady Elinor Campbell of Islay and Shawfield. N:Mackay was born c. 1775 and was a fiddler-composer from Islay. Many of his N:tune titles are reflect Islay settings. N:Printed in Glasgow by J. MacFadyen, 30 Wilson St. Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:D d|D/D/D AF ADDd|D/D/D AF BEEd|D/D/D AF ABde|fdec BEE:| |:g|fdde fdde|fddf gfeg|fdec dBAF|GBFA BEE:|]
MR. ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL ARDBEG'S REEL. Scottish, Reel (cut time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. "Mr. Alexander MacDougall's Reel" was printed in Islay fiddler-composer Alexander Mackay's Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Slow Tunes, the dating of which has not been determined. Charles Gore gives a date of c. 1802, while John Glen dates it to c. 1822. Researcher J. Murdoch Henderson, himself a fiddler-composer and proponent of Scottish music, found a watermark on the volume he examined that pointed to a date of c. 1832 (which seems likely). This reel is one of Mackay's own compositions, among many in his collection that reference Isle of Islay people and places.
Situated on the south coast of Islay, Ardbeg was famous as a hideout for smugglers who had to make themselves scarce after their cache was discovered by the Excise men in the late 18th century. Mackay's title honors one of the founding family of the Ardbeg Distillery on Islay, beginning with scion Duncan MacDougall. Duncan had, in 1798, rented the farms of Ardbeg, Airigh nam Beist and Ardenistiel, along with half the farm of Lagavulin, and had been producing unlicensed whisky until the family managed to legitimize the operation. John MacDougall operated the Ardbeg distiller in 1815, when it became licensed. Duncan died in 1835. Son John ran the operation for many years, although forced in 1838 to take on new partners due to insolvency. His son, Alexander MacDougall emerged as the primary owner, and, at his death in 1853 the distillery was owned by Alexander MacDougall and Co.; it continued to be run by Alexander's sisters, Margaret (see "Miss Margaret MacDougal of Ardbeg Strathspey") and Flora, along with Colin Hay.