‘What are you so busy with these days?’ asked Specky as she came in after a busy day in the office.
Being a Taurean, I gave her a single word answer, ‘Black Dog.’
‘Black Dog?’ she echoed.
‘Yes, I am writing a few researched posts on this wonderful brand of Scotch whisky.’
‘Black Dog?’ she echoed again, but this time the tone told me that she is going to get into her brand of research. This is precisely what happened and very soon she sidled close to me and began reading out from a few notes that she had made.
The first fact she told me was that ‘Black Dog’ is also a song by English rock band Led Zeppelin. Specky then read from her notes: “This song is featured as the lead-off track of their fourth album, released in 1971. It was also released as a single in the United States and Australia with ‘Misty Mountain Hop’ on the B-side, and reached #15 on Billboard and #11 in Australia.”
‘Quite interesting,’ I said, ‘but even I know a few such facts that are related to the term Black Dog.’ I then went on to tell her that a black dog was a coin in the Caribbean of Queen Anne of Great Britain, made of pewter or copper, typically worth 1½ pence or a 72nd of a dollar!
She admitted that she was unaware of this trivia… but that she was more interested in the relationship of the term with folklore. Specky then said, ‘A black dog is the name given to a being found primarily in the folklores of the British Isles. The black dog is interestingly a nocturnal apparition, often said to be associated with the Devil, and its appearance was regarded as a portent of death.’
‘But the Black Dog that I am writing about is a rather spirited and lively entity!’ I said, and then continued, ‘and this one has a history of its own.’ We then scoured the net and came to the United Breweries website where we read this piece of text:
The birth of the great Scotch Whisky took place over 125 years ago when James MacKinlay of the second generation of the Leith Scotch Whisky blending family launched the masterful whisky by the name of Millard Black Dog. It is said that in the year 1883 Walter Millard, a Scot from the British East India Company came searching for the perfect Scotch and eventually discovered the great taste of this whisky in these misty shores of Scotland.
Being a keen angler, Walter Millard named the whisky Black Dog in honour of his favourite salmon fishing fly used in the Spey and Tay rivers of Scotland since the early 19th century.
‘That’s quite interesting,’ exclaimed Specky, ‘and to think that the name is not connected to a canine at all!’
I said, ‘Yes, there are countless reports of phantom like creatures of canine form, which have been termed, black dogs, devil dogs or hellhounds. They are as large as Labradors or Alsatians and are usually described as being black, often with shaggy coats… but they aren’t anywhere near to this wonderfully sublime Scotch that we are talking about!’
It was at this point that we decided to pursue this research on some other day and got up to go out on the balcony to have our first sips of Black Dog Scotch with the cool evening zephyr wafting in the fragrance of the garden below.
07 March 2013