Balvenie’s Dipping Dog is my new favorite boozy accessory
Last minute invitations can be stressful. When someone buzzes you out of the blue to leave your couch and that bottle of garnacha, beckoning you to trudge out into the wild world, it’s often best to make a polite excuse and decline the offer. Usually.
However, if your last-minute invitation is to puff cigars and sip Balvenie Scotch on a balcony at the Beverly Hills Hotel, that’s an entirely different equation. So when that very invite came my way, I responded with an enthusiastic YESPLEASE. I then informed my pal Matt that he had the arduous duty of joining me, and—good sport that he is—he agreed.
When we arrived, we strolled past the lineup of Bentleys and Rolls Royces parked out front, and marched into the posh lobby like we knew exactly what we were doing (hahaha). As we approached the balcony of Bar Nineteen 12, the sun was making its final descent to the hills. A pair of Monkey Shoulder Scotch cocktails appeared, and we got ourselves settled.
Our host for the evening was Balvenie’s West Coast Brand Ambassador, an ever-charming fellow named David Laird. He explained that we would be stepping through four different expressions of Balvenie whisky, and in the final round there would be a rather special cigar pairing. They’d commissioned Daniel Marshall (who it turns out is kind of a big deal) to create a custom cigar that he felt would pair best with their 21-year Portwood Scotch.
But wait, there’s more.
We were also introduced to a little something called the dipping dog. It’s amazing. And I don’t know where it’s been all my life.
A dipping dog is a narrow copper bottle, topped with a cork, and attached to a chain. Back in the day, distillery workers would use these genius devices to discreetly capture and sip whisky on the job. They’d lower it into a whisky cask, then pull it back out by its chain, now full of delectable Scotch. Next, after attaching the chain to their belt, the bottle would hang inside their pant leg undetected, ready to be retrieved for a nip at any time.
This is why it’s called a dipping dog. It’s on a leash. It’s always by your side. It’s definitely obviously mankind’s best friend.
Not only are these inventions totally clever, they’re also quite stylish. So, I was delighted to learn that each one of us at the event would receive a miniature brass dipping dog of our own. Bonus.
We proceeded with the tastings, while Mr. Laird told stories and provided deeper insights to each style. I was particularly enamored with the 17-Year-Old DoubleWood, which is layered with flavors of cinnamon, toffee, vanilla, and dried fruit. Don’t get me wrong, though. That Portwood at the end of the evening was phenomenal, and the cigar that went with it was just as lovely.
Also, there was a special guest in attendance: Kirsten Grant Meikle. She’s the great granddaughter of the one and only William Grant. She was full of good stories and humor, and I’ll say right now: her Scotch-sipping and cigar-puffing skills put me to shame.
As we made our exit, Mr. Laird noticed the chain of my dipping dog dangling from my pocket, and pulled me aside. He explained that the tiny corks that came with these things were not ideal, so I needed to be careful. Fortunately, he said, he had a fix. That was when he pulled the cork from an empty Balvenie Scotch bottle, then deftly popped it onto the top of my dipping dog. I was now the proud owner of what he calls the “1892 flask.” He apparently never attends a wedding without one.
I think that from now on, neither will I.