Going Down Memory Lane with Black Dog

Coming back home from work, at the butt end of a day, you stand in front of your door in the well-lit porch. You look for the keys in your rather cluttered bag, with a small irritation growing larger by the minute. When you find it, you quickly put it in the lock and turn it. In that exact moment, when you have opened the door but haven’t stepped inside, and a profound darkness lies ahead of you, it hits you, the weight of existence. You take a minute, then step inside and take off your shoes, you switch on the light and a 40 watt bulb comes to life. You walk over to the bar cabinet, and pour yourself a dram of the Black Dog 12 Year Old, you had purchased at the airport last weekend. Turning over a new leaf always calls for celebration, you had thought. But as you stand at the corner of your drawing room, and mull things over, bizarre questions arise in your mind, and you want to shake them off unresolved.

The one large cube of ice has melted a little. You raise your glass and breathe in. A complex blend of spiced pepper, vanilla, butterscotch, and cinnamon fill your nostrils. You take a long sip. As elegant woody flavours and caramelized peaches tantalize your palate, you begin to relax. You pour yourself another dram and play some jazz. An overwhelming sense of nostalgia sweeps over you. You think about the people you have encountered, you think about the people you call friends. Then, looking at the empty old fashioned glass in your hand, you think about the person who introduced you to scotch, more specifically your favourite Black Dog.

Which year was it, the summer evening when you had heard the beautiful tale of a young William S. Millard and how he met the enchanting James MacKinlay in his quest to ferret out scotch that would suit the tropical climate of most Asian countries? James MacKinlay, who was a second generation whisky blender from the Leith family, was producing brands like Fine Old Scotch Whisky, and Rare Old Scotch Whisky in the late nineteenth century. After Millard married MacKinlay’s daughter Sarah, they discovered a blend that they both seem to have been looking for. Considering his love for fishing, Walter Millard named this scotch after his favourite fishing fly, the Black Dog, in 1883. While Millard set sail for India with a ship full of his fine Black Dog whisky bottles, MacKinlay promised to keep a steady supply. But at the same time he was also carrying out experiments in his own backyard blending other aged whiskies according to Millard’s notes. In the process was born the exquisite Black Dog 12 Year Old, which became a winner overnight, not just in Scotland but also internationally. It became the most sought after scotch among the connoisseurs. But which summer was it, when you met one such whisky connoisseur and was mesmerized by whisky stories from around the world?

Time flies. That was you, a few years back, or more perhaps.

But now, you come back home and park your Mercedes, walk up to the front porch and ring the doorbell. A familiar face, a familiar laughter greets you. Standing at the threshold, you hear Robert Plant singing “Black Dog” and you sing along, groove a little as you walk in. Sinking into the comfort of the sofa, you drink your favourite scotch neat, and let it fill your inside with familiar warmth. You know you can think about life unperturbed. To be honest, in all probability, it will only make you happy. After all, their tagline is your motto, you could let the world wait.

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