Dining » Food & Drink

The Original Oldbury Sheep Dip Pure Malt Scotch Whisky

Arena Liquor, 1217 Hampton Avenue, 314-645-6644


The other night, at least one St. Louisan stayed up late in a comfy upstairs room with the lights down low, listening to Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, and blankly stared at a brick wall. Dull, but good dull, the result of an incredibly pleasant earlier evening, when the threatened ice-and-snow catastrophe never transpired and a handful of humbled chief meteorologists hung their heads in shame.

In the midst of this, a whisper, and a soft recollection floats like an April cumulonimbus into the center of the room, one that alters the course of an impending midnight and, by extension, history. Listen! Can you hear it? The faint baaaaa of the woolly ones and the nasal quiver of their adorable offspring? Go, follow the sound down the stairs, past the dead flowers and into the kitchen, where the ruckus gets louder: hoofs in dry grass, cud, smacking, miscellaneous grunts, coming from behind the baby-blue door of the liquor cabinet. There, in grainy black-and-white, magically animated on the label of a brown bottle, sheep, affixed to -- lo and behold! -- an uncracked bottle of Sheep Dip pure malt Scotch whisky. Oh life! Fluffy lambies and their puffy mamas, cooped up in a cabinet, restless for some room to roam. Better set 'em loose, poor little things!

Call the collie, because you've got some corralling to do, back upstairs with the lot of them, where the little lambs quickly lie down in beds of hay for the duration of the eve, and the lions -- Flavor Flav, Chuck D and a couple of S1Ws -- sing them a lullaby: "I got a letter from the government the other day/I opened it, and read it, it said they were suckas."

Sheep Dip, man, that's where it's at, named after, literally, a sheep dip, which shepherds of Scotland (and elsewhere) use to cleanse and protect their flocks. Not exactly appetizing, and even less so if, like many, you always thought sheep dip was slang for sheep poop. Sheep Poop, you have to admit, dear Beavis, is a pretty funny name, and brilliant. Brilliant because there is no sane reason to name a whisky after a vat of treated water that stinky, smelly sheep wade into. It's a Marketing 101 commandment: Do Not Name Your Product After Livestock Bath, or Excrement. But then, the name locks into your consciousness and you start to wonder: If these blokes can import an elixir named after nasty barnyard water, they must have a lot of confidence in the product -- it must, therefore, stand on its own. Well, good news.

Sheep Dip's nose is definitely not poopy. There's some smoky caramel, and a touch of nut and it hits the tip of your tongue with a sweet grace, and when it passes your buds and hits your throat, it's not a shock. On the contrary, the stuff triggers an ooh, wow moment, and immediately the sensation confirms that the Scotsmen could have called their concoction This Will Give You Diarrhea and you'd still drink it up happy. Dip is a pure malt, a.k.a. a vatted malt, a.k.a. a blend, and whoever mixed these malts knew his shit and tightened the screw top with confidence akin to that of the proud, pensive sheep that's painted upon it. The fluffy lamb stands in profile and, given the name of the product it's endorsing, one can't help projecting a thought into Mr. Scottish Sheep's head: "I think I might need a bath." And that wouldn't be a half-bad idea this late on a cold night -- a bath. That, along with a Sheep Dip nightcap, might help calm a frantic, mile-a-minute mind that's juggling the brainchatter of a dozen cracked-up Flavor Flavs and 100 inconsolable Chuck D's: "Lower than low. What a sucka know?" Perhaps a tiny glass, and a warm bath.

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