, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Thoma family just returned from visiting the Kennedy Space Center, and because I remain absolutely enthralled by what I experienced there, I took to doing a little reading on the history of the Apollo 8 mission—which is the one aspect of our visit that marveled me the most.

In my casual study, one thing led to another, and I ended up swimming in various aerospace articles that did far more to harm my self-esteem than actually inform me.

I’m a moron beside these people.

I say this not only in comparison to the details surrounding the men and women who were the first to figure out how to get a spacecraft to orbit the moon, but also in response to the well-versed writer who scribed one particular article in which the word “cabotage” was used with the casual assumption that I actually knew what it meant. I’d never seen this word before in my life. As far as I knew, it described the moment when one person successfully hails a cab only to have another person come along and steal it.

“Spell ‘cabotage.’”

“Please use it in a sentence.”

“That stupid s.o.b. stealing my cab was a clear case of cabotage.”

“Cabotage… c-a-b-o-t-a-g-e. Cabotage.”

“That is correct.”

But cabotage has nothing to do with cab-stealing. And for the foodies out there, it’s even further from meaning to slip a little bit of cabbage into a dish where it doesn’t belong. It’s the term used of a country’s right to both operate and monitor all transportation within—and in some cases just beyond—its own borders.

Colliding with my own ignorance, and sipping a rather pleasant dram of Douglas Laing’s Scallywag Small Batch Release, I wondered about the etymology of the whisky’s title. I already knew it was a derogatory term used during the time of the Civil War by Democrats in reference to the Republicans intent on freeing the slaves, but I figured it had a deeper meaning in Europe. I thought perhaps it might’ve had something to do with a particular historical character in Scotland who stood against the travesty of high taxation of whiskies, ultimately making the individual malts of this blend somehow possible. You know, something like that—something deeply inspiring.

Well, let’s just say that the previously mentioned blow to my self-esteem caused me to over compensate on this one. It’s nothing more than the name of Douglas Laing’s toothless dog.

No worries. For as derogatory as the term might be, as it relates to this namesake whisky, it suggests Scallywag is an exceptionally refined pooch, one that is a well-bathed, affectionate, and steady companion in all of life’s circumstances.

The nose is crisp and fruity, not only giving over the remnant scents of the sherry casks, but other candied tree delights as well—bruised peaches and warmed plums. There’s an initial waft of vanilla, but it dissipates shortly after the pour.

The palate maintains the vanilla. But like a well-trained canine friend, it fetches a few other enchantments and sets them at its master’s feet, its only expectation being that of a loving pat and a “Good boy.” It runs out to find milk chocolate, but returns with cherries, too. It fetches the nutmeg, cinnamon, and citrus zest noted on the whisky’s canister.

The medium finish sees one more round trip from the pooch, a venture that results in a fading, oaky ember from an extinguished fireplace.

Come to think of it, since we’ve been playing with words, I sure hope Laing wasn’t pulling a fast one on us when he named this after his dog. I sure hope he chose the title as he did because Scallywag is (or was) a well-mannered and faithful pooch, and not because his fox terrier, like his whisky, was so incredibly delicious.

The Thoma family with our new bestie, astronaut Ken Cameron. What a genuine gent, one who was kindly enough to take time out of his day to sign autographs and take pictures with the lower life forms. Turns out he lived not too far from us in Michigan when he worked at General Motors. I did a little reading about Ken, and for the record, I gave a silent toast to his more-than-astounding list of accomplishments when I sipped this Scallywag. Slàinte mhath, Ken!