Wednesday 22 February 2017


A Translation Error Ended up Making India Part of the Bible

Christianity has long been a part of India’s religious diversity. Syrian Christians claim that Thomas, one of the original 12 disciples of Jesus, established their community almost 2,000 years ago. Medieval Christians in Europe believed that Bartholomew, another disciple of Jesus, evangelised North India while Thomas headed south. India also influenced Christianity in the West. Around the year 1,000, reports reached Europe of two Indian saints who, supposedly, had continued the work of Thomas. These saints, known as Barlaam and Josaphat, soon became popular, and their biographies were read throughout Europe. In fact, their life stories were slightly altered translations of Sanskrit narratives about the life of Siddhartha Gautama. The Buddha became not one, but two Christian saints.

Another error in translation brought India into Jerome’s Latin Bible, where it remained at the heart of Catholic belief for over 1,500 years. Jerome, who lived in 347-420 CE, was a monk from modern Croatia who undertook a pioneering translation of the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament into Latin, the language of the Roman empire. But Jerome also found time to indulge other interests, including a fascination for India. He seems to have read nearly everything about the Subcontinent that would have been available in Greek and Latin. His letters to friends, colleagues and potential converts are full of references to features of South Asian life in that period – the caste system, Buddhism, and sati. They also mention magical gems and fabulous creatures, like the unicorn, that people in the Mediterranean region believed could be found in India.

With India on his mind, Jerome made a mistake in translating the Hebrew Bible that would influence Christianity for many centuries. In a passage of the Book of Job (chapter 28, verse 16), Jerome translated a Hebrew expression meaning “the gold of Ophir” (a region in East Africa) as “the dyed colours of India”, referring to the brightly-coloured cotton cloth that India was already exporting throughout the world. Indian textiles were a highly valuable commodity in the ancient Mediterranean. Greek and Roman traders travelled to Indian ports like Arikamedu, near present-day Puducherry, to buy cloth, spices and other luxuries, in exchange for gold. It was only natural, therefore, that Roman subjects like Jerome associated India with rich colours and valuable dyestuff.

Fascination with India

After the decline of the Roman empire in the 5th century, and particularly after the rise of Islam in the 7th century, Europe was isolated from India. Westerners saw little of the Subcontinent’s vivid cotton cloth until Vasco da Gama’s 15th-century voyage to India around the coast of Africa. But Europeans of the Middle Ages were still enthralled by India, and particularly by the allusive reference to it in Jerome’s translation, which had become the standard version of the Bible used by the Roman Catholic Church.

Generations of Christian thinkers pondered the spiritual significance of “the dyed colours of India”. One of the most popular interpretations came from Gregory the Great, a 7th-century pope. Gregory said that Indian cloth was a metaphor for “the brightness of false philosophy”, for people who seem wise and holy but are really only dyed with “an exterior colour of righteousness”. India itself, “which produces a black race, is this world, in which the dark life of man is engendered in sin”. Bright Indian cloth and dark Indian bodies signified sin, he insisted, while Christian virtue was white “like an undyed garment”. Gregory’s interpretation casts the Subcontinent as a land of temptation and vice, yet it also shows that India was seen as a place of wealth and sophistication with which Europe, then in its dark ages, could not compare. Whether medieval Christians saw India as a symbol of evil or as the home of saints like Thomas and Barlaam, the Subcontinent remained a source of fascination.

As written by Blake Smith



Saturday 18 February 2017



Some time back (10 February 2017), Lockheed stated that it intended to manufacture the F-16 Block-70/72 aircraft with a local partner in India (Tata), under PM Modi's Make-in-India programme, if the Indian Air Force agreed to purchase the aircraft. Going by the rate at which India manufactures aircraft, the statement of first rollout by 2019 is a chimera. The first aircraft will fly in perhaps 2023 and the prototype will attain FOC in 2025 or so. Thereafter India may sell the 1972-design aircraft to interested buyers. As of today, the only country interested in buying this 1972 model aircraft is Pakistan! Even the USA has terminated its F-16 programme.

The Indian Air Chief is on record as of 04 Oct. 2017 that the IAF is putting up a proposal for single-engined jet fighters as twin-jets are too expensive. The number will depend on how many fronts we will be fighting on, currently assumed as two. At least 112 will be required as the MiG-27 and Jaguars are phased out.

US defence major Lockheed Martin has firmed up its plans to produce the latest version of its iconic F-16 fighter jets only in India under the Make in India programme. Lockheed Martin is currently scouting for land to set up its manufacturing unit. According to sources, it is looking to set up the plant in a State that will have a runway near a port.
Under the deal, the company will be manufacturing the latest version of the jets – F-16 Block 70/72 – that will be produced ‘exclusively’ in India. This will be the ‘most advanced’ version and will not be built anywhere else in the world. The F-16 project is a government-to-government deal that will be conducted through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route. However, it seems Lockheed Martin has no plans to take the 100 per cent foreign direct investment route for the programme. It is likely to co-produce the F-16s in collaboration with the Tata Advanced Systems Ltd., which has been its partner for other defence and aerospace programmes such as the C-130 cargo plane.

India had long been demanding that the F-16s it buys will have to be more advanced than what is sold to neighbouring Pakistan. This is absolute rubbish, and the F-16 was rejected by India in the MMRCA face-off as being too old a design with too many inherent snags, which haven’t been resolved over 40 years. For instance, it is the only Fly-By-Wire aircraft in the world that has minimum speed restrictions. However, with the recent push on India-US defence ties, talks on setting up the F-16 plant in India have steadily progressed. The deal was ‘almost finalised’ when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited Washington last year, during Obama’s tenure. What will happen with Trump in the saddle-pun intended-is still to be read in the tea leaves.

The Trump Administration is taking a fresh look at Lockheed's proposal to have a F-16 manufacturing base in India if New Delhi agrees to buy the fighter jets, company officials said. "For several months, we've been working with President Trump's transition and governance teams and leaders in Congress providing information on our many programmes and potential business opportunities--including the proposed sale of F-16 fighter aircraft to India," a Lockheed official said. Lockheed, which is one of the top global manufacturers of fighter jets, said that its officials have briefed the Trump Administration on the current proposal, which was supported by the Obama Administration as part of a broader cooperative dialogue with the Government of India.

"We understand that the Trump Administration will want to take a fresh look at some of these programmes and we stand prepared to support that effort to ensure that any deal of this importance is properly aligned with US policy priorities," the official said. Ultimately, the configuration of any F-16 sale to India will be determined by government-to-government discussions, the Lockheed official noted referring to the fact that all major defence sales needs approval of the US Government. The official said that the company continues to believe that the F-16 is the right aircraft to meet India's fighter aircraft needs and the opportunity to sell F-16 aircraft to India represents a significant opportunity for the US economy. "The selection of the F-16 by India would preserve US jobs at Lockheed Martin and throughout our US supply chain. It could also create opportunities for future aircraft sales and upgrades by keeping F-16 production active," the official said.

According to Lockheed, which has been in India for more than 25 years, this unique F-16 opportunity delivers advanced defence capabilities and strengthens the strategic partnership between the US and India. The F-16 is ready for any challenge, combining innovative structural and capability upgrades, such as the Active Electronically Scanned Array radar with a new avionics architecture. The Block 70 software further enhances capabilities through an advanced datalink, precision GPS navigation and Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System, the official said.

During the 2016 visit, Modi finalised the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the US, which is one of the three crucial foundational agreements that strengthened India-US defence ties. India is also negotiating the remaining two foundational pacts with US. As a result, the F-16 programme of Lockheed Martin received a major thrust, with strengthened  ties. Indian Air Force is in desperate need of modern fighter aircraft as it grapples with an ageing fleet. They have conveniently forgotten that the F-16 is a 1972 design! And that it couldn't cope with well-flown MiG-21s!

India and France have concluded a long-awaited deal that would see the transfer of 36 Dassault Rafale multi-role fighters to India in fly-away condition. Despite lingering questions around pricing, the Rafale deal will help the Indian Air Force fill an important capability starting in 2019, when the first Rafale jet is expected to arrive in India. However, 36 jets still leaves the IAF far short of its sanctioned squadron strength. The Indian Air Force ideally wants to field between 42 and 45 squadrons by the late-2020s and getting there will require additional procurement — especially as much of its existing inventory continues to march toward obsolescence and some of its newer jets, like the Su-30MKI, have faced technical difficulties in recent years as well.

Of course, before we had the 36-jet government-to-government take on the Rafale acquisition, India had the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) tender — once known as the ‘mother of all defence deals.’ Through the MMRCA, India sought to acquire 126 jets, seeking to manufacture 112 within India. Ultimately, liability and quality assurance issues bogged down negotiations with Dassault, leading to the collapse of the MMRCA altogether.

Though the MMRCA is dead, its ghost continues to linger. Reports have persisted throughout 2016 that the Indian Air Force is pushing for a large fighter acquisition, with a significant domestic manufacturing component, in line with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modis ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Reuters reports that Delhi may pursue a 200-to-300-jet deal for single-engine planes in India. If concluded with a single manufacturer, the deal may be India’s largest ever, even dwarfing the original MMRCA. The Indian Air Force may look to fully retire its Soviet-era fighter inventory, helping partly alleviate the maintenance, logistics, and supply costs associated with maintaining a fighter fleet comprised of platforms from several external providers, including Russia, France, the UK and now potentially the United States. 

In addition to helping the IAF get closer to its sanctioned squadron strength, any potential deal that may be in the offing will hinge on technology transfer — something that India missed out on with the evaporation of the MMRCA and the terms of the final Rafale deal. As the MMRCA saga and the two-year negotiation process for the government-to-government Rafale deal demonstrated, getting from planned procurement to a concluded deal may be difficult. It will be the biggest mistake India will make after inducting the MiG-21,besides screwing the IAF.

Major Drawbacks of the F-16:

  • The F-16 has the highest accident rate among its generation in the world. It appears low because of sheer numbers of aircraft produced- something like the Rape rate in India which is actually the lowest in the world in %. On the other hand, only one Rafale has been lost so far!
  •  It has the highest airframe fracture rate in the world, exceeded only by the Comet, Buccaneer, Lightning, MiG-21 and Concorde, all museum-pieces. In its last five years, the Buccaneer had a laughable 2G limit.The F-16's structural weight has now increased by 3 tonnes, for the same airframe.
  • The F-16’s  undercarriage strut replacement rate is the highest in its class.
  • Its out-of-base serviceability record is the poorest known in its class, with a 50% MTBF in India.
  • Its on-base LRU replacement rate is in excess of 1.0/per sortie. Unlike India, there is no shortage of LRUs in USA.
  • It is the only FBW aircraft that has minimum speed limitations. I quote:  " Flight testing has revealed that assaulting multiple limiters at high AOA and low speed can result in an AOA far exceeding the 25° limit, referred to as 'departure'; this causes a deep stall, a near-freefall at 50° to 60° AOA, either upright or inverted. While at a very high AOA, the aircraft's attitude is stable but control surfaces are ineffective; the pitch limiter locks the stabilators at an extreme pitch-up or pitch-down attempting to recover, this can be overridden so the pilot can 'rock' the nose via pitch control to recover." There is no speed problem with the M-2000, the Rafale, the Typhoon & the Gripen.
  • It is the only current gen aircraft that is banned from low-level night flying, even with the LANTIRN.
  • Its HUD/Avionics suite does not offer an auto-landing system like the M-2000.
  • Its HUD does not display engine power management.
  • Its canopy has to be jettisoned before ejecting.
  • Its combat presence is 40% that of the Rafale.
  • It has come a distant second-best to the Typhoon in one-on-one tests.
  • Its frontal RCS is the highest in small-sized agile fighters. (The SU-30 is huge, twice the F-16’s size).
  • Its heat/IR signature is the highest in its class, due to its GE F110-GE-132 engine. This engine is a monster, delivering over 15 tonnes of thrust, forcing the ac to carry a 1000-L V/T at all times. Even so, combat endurance is low. Interestingly, all take offs are in dry power, load permitting, since its reheat burns off the runway surface.
  • It has a speed limit of 700 knots at LL, due intake design, stabiliser design and a difficult M 2.0 at altitude.
  • It has the largest frontal Doppler blind zone and beam quarters Doppler notch, to be addressed by its new AESA radar.

India has insisted that any foreign firm awarded the deal will have to collaborate and manufacture in the country with a local partner to boost its drive to build a domestic air production base, an initiative by the world's biggest arms importer to link its defence purchases, which could top $200 billion over a decade, to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Make in India" pitch. 

Inaugurating the 2017 Bengaluru air show, Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar(since deceased) said no exceptions will be granted to setting up a facility to produce planes in India, and it is up to companies making proposals to get clearance with their governments. "That is my requirement," he said. India, once heavily dependent on arms purchases from Russia, has diversified its purchases in recent years and defence imports from the United States have grown quickly in recent years. India's huge appetite for defence purchases to modernise its armed forces attracted the world's top defence companies to the air show.

Besides manufacturing, India has insisted on transfer of technology as part of its efforts to build a domestic production base and end its dependence on costly defence imports. That was not expected to be a roadblock with the F-16 as American and Indian defence ties have grown in recent years. It is widely believed that U.S.-India defence ties will be marked more by "continuity than disruptive change." From India's standpoint, he says any deal for fighter aircraft will have to be contingent on local manufacturing. "For this government to go back on it and say that we are just going to buy it off the shelf, or go with some screwdriver technology, it is not going to go down well either with their own philosophy or with the services."

The Block 70 aircraft includes Northrop Grumman’s APG-83 active electronically scanned array radar, new avionics, and a greatly improved cockpit that can process data produced by advanced sensors. The aircraft proposed for India will also include conformal fuel tanks. It will be powered by the General Electric F110-GE-132 turbofan with a maximum thrust of 32,500 lbf (144.6 kN, 14,959 Kgf), the highest thrust engine developed for the F-16.

  • Empty weight: 18,900 lb (8,570 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 26,500 lb (12,000 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 42,300 lb (19,200 kg)
  • Internal fuel: 7,000 pounds (3,200 kg)

Conformal Fuel Tanks

There is no change in the F-16’s internal fuel carrying capacity of 3,200 Kg/4,000L. Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFTs) are over-the-wing laterally mounted tanks that blend with the aerodynamic spinal configuration of the aircraft. Since nothing can be suspended from them as load, they are rather light. A set of two CFTs that provide a total of 1360 Kg (1,700L) of additional fuel for the F-16 weighs 420 Kg. The extra fuel can significantly extend mission range, time on station or time engaged in combat. This range/combat presence enhancement is very valuable for countries that do not have tankers for aerial refuelling. There are certain penalties, however. Drag and RCS both increase. While 9G turns can still be executed given its monstrous engine, minimum radius turns are affected (~6G, 350-75 kts). Thus the ac will have to operate in a predictable oblique mode. No dogfight will see two ac pulling 9G each, except in transient maneuvres. Low speed high alpha maneuvres were banned earlier.

The overall weight of the aircraft increases by 1,800 Kg; to stay within max T/O limit, ordnance/fuel tank weight has to be reduced by 1,800 Kg. CFTs increase the F-16's payload flexibility. For medium range air- to-surface missions, CFTs obviate wing tanks. This allows an increase in the F-16's primary weapon capacity and flying with two, rather than one, types of large weapons in a balanced configuration. An AAR tanker may change mission dynamics radically.


A fully armed F-16 Block 70-72 with the incongruous over-wing CFTs
  • Guns: 1 × 20 mm (0.787 in) M61A1 Vulcan 6-barrel Rotary cannon, 511 rounds
  • Hardpoints: 2 × wing-tip Air-to-air missile launch rails, 6 × under-wing, and 3 × under-fuselage pylon (2 of 3 for sensors) stations with a capacity of Up to 17,000 lb (7,700 kg) of stores.
  • In case the F-16 deal fails-which is most unlikely- SAAB is ready in the wings with its Gripen to fully meet all requirements demanded by India.
Years have passed and the world is reeling under the chaos caused by the Covid-19 Corona virus pandemic. The USA has proposed the F-21 as their contender in the 114-aircraft MMRCA deal.

The “F-21” has some advantages over the Block 70. Lockheed’s promotional video shows the fighter with a remarkable ten missiles—eight medium-range, radar-guided AMRAAM missiles plus two AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles.

Lockheed Martin says if F-21 wins the contract, then India will be integrated into the company's global fighter ecosystem, which is a USD 165 billion dollar market. They will not sell this platform and the configuration to anyone else in the world, a significant commitment by Lockheed Martin showing the importance of India and importance of unique requirement India has. It will not only set up a state-of-the-art F-21 manufacturing facility along with the Tata Group but will also help India create an ecosystem for overall growth of the country's defence manufacturing.

F-21 is similar to Lockheed's F-16 Block 70 combat jet, but there are significant differences between the two platforms. F-21 is different in terms of various aspects including its airframe, weapons capability, engine matrix and availability of engine options. The new engine and airframe have 12,000 hours of service life. The jet has a Long-Range Infrared Search and Track (IRST), enabling pilots to detect threats with precision and Triple Missile Launcher Adapters (TMLAs) allowing it to carry 40 per cent more air-to-air weapons.

The aircraft has an AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar, a modern commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)-based avionics subsystem, the AN/APX-126 Advanced IFF, the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System II, CFT (Conformal Fuel Tanks) located overwing; a high-volume, high-speed data bus as well as other features like a Link-16 Theatre Data Link, Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod, advanced weapons, precision GPS navigation, and the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS).

The Northrop Grumman’s advanced APG-83 AESA radar enables greater detection and tracking ranges, multiple target track (20-plus target tracks), high-resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) maps for all-environment precision strike, interleaved air-to-air and air-to-surface mode operations for improved situational awareness, operational effectiveness and survivability and robust electronic protection for operations in dense radio frequency (RF) environments.

The additional 40 per cent weapons carrying capability is new in F-21, an upgrade over the F-16 Block 70. The electronic warfare system is uniquely developed for India. This fighter’s cockpit has a new large area display. It is a modern cockpit and has a significant piece of ability to synthesise information. These are unique capabilities that are not offered to other countries in the world.

The F-21’s innovative technologies are derived from Lockheed Martin’s F-22 and F-35 – the world’s only two operational 5th Generation fighters. The F-21 is equipped with an Advanced APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, which has detection ranges nearly double that of previous mechanically scanned array radars and the ability to track and attack more targets with higher precision. It has an Advanced Electronic Warfare (EW) System, developed uniquely for India that provides enhanced survivability against ground and air threats; Long-Range Infrared Search and Track (IRST), enabling pilots to detect threats without being detected. 

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Thursday 9 February 2017



Of International Appeal But Of Indian Concept

In the 19th century, the sun never set over the British Empire, so vast was its spread. Since the only mode of international cross-continental travel was by sea, the Empire invariably faced logistic and infrastructural problems as sea routes were subject to unpredictable weather conditions en route. While a great many problems could be resolved by local provisioning, the high and mighty faced problems in victuals like beef and pork and other supplies which could only be brought from back home, e.g., wine, alcohol and tobacco.

Herbert Musgrave Phipson (1850 – 1936), was a British wine merchant and naturalist who lived in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, from 1878 to 1905. He had come to India in 1878 as a partner in the firm of J. A. Forbes & Co., Bombay. In 1883, which was to become a year of some significance, he established his own company, Phipson & Co. Wine Merchants, Apollo Road, Bombay and employed Walter Samuel Millard (1864–1952), the seventh son of a Pastor and an educated, if impoverished, young bachelor who would become fairly knowledgeable about liquor, learning from his in-laws. Records show that Millard first set foot in India in early 1884. 

Phipson also served as the editor of the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society for twenty years – as the sole editor for fifteen years till 1901 and then a joint editor with Millard, who succeeded him as Honorary Secretary in 1906, when Phipson returned home due to his wife's continued sickness. W.S. Millard left India in 1920 for home. He might have been recognised but was certainly not knighted for his services to the Natural History Society and to the British Armed Forces as a provender of high-quality perishables.

Phipson and Co. expanded quickly and had outlets all over Asia, in present-day Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Burma, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and more, which required a lot of shuttling to and fro. Unfortunately for them, wine and alcohol seemed to be in short supply, mainly because they were sourced from home. 

That year (1883), Phipson went to England to acquire all necessary ingredients for his business and set up contracts, particularly with stockists of Red, White and Rose Wines, Port, Sherry, Gin, Brandy and Whisky. Whisky could only be procured from Scotland. He employed Walter S. Millard (1864–1952), a 19-year-old educated bachelor to do the concomitant legwork. Both Millard and Phipson were pure Britishers, with nary a Scottish connection. This implied that Millard had to travel to Scotland, at best a tiring journey with poor transportation. He was to travel to Speyside and visit as many of the two dozen odd Glenlivet distilleries there, besides others. Phipson was leaving England when the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) was founded on 15 September 1883. He joined the BNHS in January '84.

Millard’s primary task was to take notes of all excellent Fine (5YO) or Rare (8 YO) Scotch Whisky that would suit the tropical climate of HM's Colonies in Asia, particularly Indian and other Asian countries. After touring the Speyside Region of Scotch Whisky distillers and blenders, he was to fetch up at James MacKinlay's site, an affluent blender then known asThe Royalty in Scotch Blenders.” It was here, in Leith, Edinburgh, that he first met MacKinlay’s daughter, Sarah, with whom he fell in love and reached an understanding, an informal engagement.

By then, MacKinlay’s name and fame had started to circulate, to peak with his 15-YO blends that he would supply Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton between 1898 and 1907. Three bottles of 15-year bottled-in-1898 Mackinlay's Scotch Whisky were found in 2010 among three crates of Scotch and two of brandy buried beneath a basic hut Shackleton had used during his dramatic failed 1907-09 Nimrod excursion to the Antarctic.

In 1875, Charles registered the brand Mackinlays Vatted Old Benvorlich Scotch whisky and opened offices in London on Queen Victoria Street and at Crutched Friars. Thus, Mackinlays Vatted Old Benvorlich, one of the earliest blended Scotch whiskies to be marketed, was introduced to London. He then purchased Corbett Borthwicks Warehouse, East Old Dock, Leith, in 1875 to use as his blending HQs.
James, son of Charles Mackinlay, established in 1815 (see label), was a second-generation whisky blender from the Leith family who produced a large number of brands of different ages, like Mackinlay's 'Fine Old Scotch Whisky' as five to seven-year-olds were known and 'Rare Old Scotch Whisky', the term for eight-year-olds. He was also a supplier of raw single malt whiskies to other Scotch brands that were sprouting all over, once the ban on blending whisky was removed in 1860. Millard toured the smallish Speyside region taking extensive notes of as many popular brands as he could find. He then left for Edinburgh, for Mackinlay's establishment. As stated earlier, he met and fell in love with Mackinlay's daughter there, whom he was to ultimately wed in 1889, the year the deluxe 12 YO expression of Black Dog Scotch Whisky was released.

Today's Black Dog Fishing Fly
Together with James, Millard discovered the blend he was looking for. Its unique taste, delicate aroma and smooth effect on the palate were the aspects that appealed the most and brought an interim end to Millard's quest, since time was of the essence and he needed to get back to India. British export rules did not allow the carrying of unnamed and unregistered bottles/containers of alcohol, so the whisky selected had to be both named, registered and put on the ship's cargo manifest as such. Millard named it as advised while Mackinlay helped him register it.

Phipson's actual reaction to this fait accompli is not recorded. There is a highly improbable anecdote as to the origin of this brand's final label. Being a keen 'Angler' and considering his love for his favourite sport, Millard named the Scotch after his favourite fishing fly - The Black Dog - allowed, in all probability as a quid pro quo by Phipson, a tale more dubious than didactic. This unsubstantiated tidbit notwithstanding, there is a simpler and less fairy-tale-like school of thought. It is quite probable that James Mackinlay, already a big name in Scotch Whisky blending, was titling his collection of brands after an array of fishing flies and that Millard selected a regal-sounding existing brand, The Black Dog. Again, this is unsubstantiated as all MacKinlay's blends are examined in detail in a separate post. All said and done, Millard had just signed a contract for it and was, temporarily, the Boss. The bare truth is that Millard was a young educated nobody other than a representative or empowered employee of Phipson in 1883.   

This Scotch, Millard's Black Dog, was only eight years old, a 'Rare Scotch', and in all probability, was a Blended Scotch Whisky (a blend of malt and grain whiskies). As desired by Phipson, Millard wanted MacKinlay to try the various whiskies- both grain and malt- he had described in his notes. He had brought about, by default, the most important quality required of a blender of Scotch Whisky, viz., to give the spirit time to blend/marry and mature in wooden casks! MacKinlay was to set up the Glen Mhor Distillery at Inverness in the Highlands in 1892, with an extension in Leith, 160 miles away near Edinburgh to facilitate blending.

Millard loaded a shipful of his Black Dog whisky bottles, and set course for India with more to follow. The competition was building up; a number of brands were also moving overseas. While Mackinlay kept up the supply of Millard's Black Dog Rare Scotch Whisky, he was also carrying out experiments in his own backyard by adding similarly aged whiskies based on his knowledge and Millard's notes and testing them out. 12-year-old Scotch whiskies were now emerging, though the 'Premium Extra Special' whiskies were expensive. Millard returned in 1889 for his much-awaited wedding and, when there, found a delightful new expression that would take centre-stage globally. 

Millard's 12-year-old but new Black Dog had to be renamed, since the original, which was to be quickly and unobtrusively withdrawn, was already a global brand. This saw the emergence of the (blended at Mackinlay) Phipson Black Dog, an exquisite 12 YO Blended Scotch whisky, in a totally different shaped dark brown bottle, which became a bestseller overnight in Scotland, sufficient cause for jacking up the price, first internationally, then locally.  

There is yet another school of thought, which, on reflection and ratiocination, seems most likely. Phipson was in Scotland in early 1883, in pursuit of essentials to set up his wine shop. He contacted James MacKinlay, aka 'The Royalty of Blenders' and commissioned him to produce a rare/fine Scotch Whisky to suit Asia and other tropical British colonies. He employed Walter, a well-educated young lad of 19 to follow up on his order, scour Speyside for good whiskies and assist James in conjuring up a magical potion, before getting back to India. Millard did as ordered, while also courting Jame's daughter, who he married in 1889, the year James put together the majestic deluxe 12 YO blend. Millard and James were successful in creating a Rare 8 YO Blended Scotch which Millard, short of time and ideas, named it Black Dog as Phipson's representative and on James' advice. As stated earlier, Phipson Black Dog was to follow and make history. This theory also supports the fact that Millard first set foot in India in 1884.    

James then bought Glen Albyn distillery in Inverness with the profit his MacKinlay whiskies and The Black Dog were reeling in, hand over hand. Such was his reputation that the explorer Ernest Shackleton took with him 25 cases of “Rare old Highland malt whisky, blended and bottled by Chas. MacKinlay & Co.” to the Antarctic on his 1909 expedition to the South Pole. As already stated, three bottles of rare 19th century Scotch whisky, MacKinlay's 15 YO, left behind by Shackleton in 1909, were discovered 101 years later, buried under the floorboards of his shack.

The Three Bottles

One of the recovered bottles
The packing case

His ne'er do well son then bought Glen Ord distillery in 1896 and sold his whisky as Glen Oran, which failed in the market. James intervened and sold off both Glen Ord and Glen Albyn in 1899 to recoup losses.

 Phipson Black Dog

The leading Scotch whisky of its time.
Note the outline of the logo of the erstwhile fly.
Source: Noel Moitra

That said, this 12 YO premium whisky had beaten Johnnie Walker's whiskies by a margin of 20 years; Johnnie Walker's 10 YO Red Label hit the market in that new avatar only in 1909, when a decision was made to simplify the names of its rather pompous but anachronous brands. It was well appreciated, but found inferior to Black Dog, even after it undercut the latter's price. The competition came from Buchanan's 12 YO, Greenlees Brothers' Old Parr (1909), Dewar’s 12 YO & Haig and Haig's Dimple 12 YO. Johnnie Walker's Very Special Old Highland, the much-touted Black Label entered the fray only in 1931.

The Chivas Regal 12 YO came in decades later, in 1964. Black Dog was the unchallenged premium whisky served on board Air India's international flights, and one of the leading brands of Scotch whisky on board passenger ships and Indian Navy warships. Surprisingly, Phipson's Black Dog was not available anywhere west of the Middle East, suggesting the transfer of each and every single one of these bottles to India and her neighbours and that Phipson held sway only in and around the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, Malaya, the Philippines and Australasia.

Painstakingly conjured up over a period of twelve long years, Black Dog Scotch instantly became the favourite of connoisseurs all over the world after making a dramatic debut as an eight-year-old in 1883, and re-emerging as a different Premium 12 YO blend six years later. This was hardly surprising, considering that each Black Dog Scotch was a masterful blend of fine taste and exquisite artistry, exemplary drams in their respective categories. The labels clearly show 'Since 1883'.

A newspaper cutting supposedly bolstering the Millard story. It is an absolute fraud: In 1883, Walter Samuel Millard was a 19-year old civilian stripling, and certainly not knighted; Sep 17, 1883, was a Tuesday, not Saturday; the word aficionado entered the English dictionary with a different connotation in the mid-19th century; the spelling of honour is wrong. I must thank Callum McKean, of the News Reference Team, The British Library, London, who searched through the British Newspaper Archive, a database of digitised local and regional newspapers which is especially comprehensive for the late nineteenth century. He was unable to locate this article. It appeared to him that this is a modern mock-up image as the typeface, wording and layout of the newspaper pictured were not consistent with any late nineteenth-century newspapers of which he was aware. (This could perhaps explain the spelling mistakes, wrong selection of words and why the date and day of publication were mismatched too). The shape of the bottle is wrong, as is the logo. NM.

Today, Phipson's Black Dog has become a collector's item which my coursemates and I possibly drank in our halcyon days-Ifor one, certainly did on my Commissioning Day party. I kept my eyes and ears open for any future mention of this brand and found some stocked by the 12-bottle cases in our Navy's Duty-Free stores. Obliging naval coursemates provided me with a bottle or two.

Millard returned to England in 1920. When the British started to leave India in 1942, Phipson and Co. battled hard to stay on, well beyond 1947 when India gained Independence. Walter Millard died in England in 1952. He was not knighted either before or after leaving India in 1920. Carew and Co., a smaller liquor dealer, and Phipson & Co. were partly taken over in 1963-64 and merged with itself by McDowell & Co, owned by United Breweries Group (UB), an Indian alcoholic beverages company. in 2002, the company acquired Phipson Distillery marking the demise of Phipson Black Dog. In 2006, McDowell & Co Ltd, Herbertsons Limited, Triumph Distillers and Vintners Private Limited, Baramati Grape Industries India Limited, Shaw Wallace Distilleries Limited and four other companies were merged to form United Spirits Limited, the world's second-largest spirits company by volume. It is now a subsidiary of Diageo and headquartered in Bangalore. USL exports its products to over 37 countries.   

USL also owned Whyte and Mackay and as Phipson Black Dog died with the taking over of the company, it turned to Richard Paterson, Master Blender at W&M to recreate The Black Dog. This acquisition of Scottish major Whyte & Mackay, with one of the largest inventories of aged malts and grain whisky reserves, saw USL bolstering Black Dog with better-aged variants to prop up premium appeal. USL started premiumising Black Dog. Rather than just placing the product on retail shelves, the company took an account management approach and created a huge buzz around the brand.  

Four versions of the five current generation Black Dog Scotch Whisky exist today, with one premium version sold out.

Black Dog Black Reserve Scotch Whisky

Black Dog Black Reserve is a rich and rare premium blended Scotch whisky loaded with exceptional characters. It is blended to perfection with a multitude of malt spirits chosen from the various regions of Scotland.
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Black Dog Black Reserve Scotch Whisky

Black Dog Black Reserve is a rich and rare blended Scotch whisky loaded with exceptional character. It is blended well with a multitude of malt and grain spirits chosen from various regions of Scotland. On completing 8 years in barrels, it is exported to India for bottling and sale. A few barrels are bottled for the local market as well. The whisky had a distinctive briny note, picked up in transit from Scotland to India, till 2008 when the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) banned
the export of Scotch whisky in wooden casks.

Black Dog Gold Reserve Scotch Whisky

Black Dog Gold Reserve Aged 12 Years is a blend of 25 fine malt and grain whiskies from four regions of Scotland - Speyside, Islay, Highlands and Lowlands, each matured for a minimum period of 12 years creating a bouquet that captures all the flavours of Scotland, giving the blend its very distinctive flavour and taste. Over 95% of its output is bottled in India, the balance going into travel packs in Duty-Free shops and other markets. There is a distinct difference between the two, possibly caused by the effect of maritime air on the barrels as they travel to hot and dusty India, where the angel is far more demanding-up to a 12% cut. Sadly, this version is but a pale shadow of the Black Dog 12 YO of yesteryear. Whyte & Mackay use a different source of water, have different stills and can NEVER replicate Mackinlay's whiskies. That said, Johnny Walker Black Label started to use peated Caol Ila 12 YO and Talisker, along with Cardhu, Glenkinchie, Dalwhinnie, Dailuaine, Linkwood, Clynelish, Oban and Cragganmore among others, changing the flavour profile markedly and elevating this brand to No.1 in the Blended Scotch 12 YO range, from which it was displaced in India by the Famous Grouse 12 YO, which sadly has been discontinued. Dewar's Scratched Cask 12 year Old, Teacher's 50, Ballantine's 12 YO, Dewar's 12 YO and Buchanan's 12 YO are currently vying for top honours in this category. Incidentally, The Famous Grouse also makes a 12 YO Blended Malt Whisky.
The Famous Grouse 12 YO Blended Scotch

The Blended Malt
The latest offering from the brand is Black Dog Triple Gold Reserve. In the triple maturation process, Grain and 32 odd Malt whiskies are matured separately in American Bourbon Casks and then blended together and matured again in Oloroso Sherry Butts for an extra long period of time to give the blend a distinctive flavour and a delicate finish. This gives this scotch a very fine finish and is a tangible improvement of the 12 YO Black Dog Gold Reserve. Its effect on the market is yet to be assessed as the owners are waiting for the Black Dog Gold Reserve to run its course, what with Whyte and Mackay and its massive inventory being sold yet again, this time to Philippines-based Emperador Inc.    

Black Dog Reserve Scotch Whisky

Black Dog 18 years old Scotch Whisky is known as Black Dog Reserve Scotch. It is matured for a minimum of 18 years in oak casks. Master blenders carefully put together a fine blend of Aged Malt and Grain Whiskies to make this an exceptional Scotch whisky. Black Dog Reserve Scotch won the Gold award at the MUNDUS Vini International Spirit Awards held in Germany in 2011. This is the third Gold award won by this 18-year-old Whisky, making it one of the top five of the world’s best tasting 18-year-old blended Scotch whiskies. I can vouch for it, as it melts into your tongue like honey. It is as good as The Glen Ord Singleton 18 YO, which forms the body of JW Blue Label, a NAS blend.

Black Dog Quintessence Scotch Whisky

The Black Dog Quintessence is a 21-year-old blend. It is pure liquid gold as it is handcrafted to meticulous perfection by Black Dog’s master blenders. Only 25 of the finest single malts and grain whiskies have been drawn from the Highland region of Scotland, in particular from Speyside to provide that special key – “finesse”. Like a loving partnership, each individual part has made its own inimitable contribution. Balance and harmony prevail throughout this noble elegant spirit. After a long 20-year maturation in Bourbon barrels, the final year is spent in the finest Oloroso sherry butts. These aren't just any sherry butts; they are specially selected from Spain’s noblest Bodegas of Gonzalez Byass in Jerez de la Frontera; these Matusalem butts provide the perfect platform to marry and mould Black Dog 21 years old Blended Scotch Whisky.  This whisky has been sold out, more's the pity. I did manage to taste it at The Patio in 2013 and can still recall that dram.

The Black Dog Gold Reserve 12 YO is available at most duty-free shops at close to US$ 37.00 per 750 CL. These are all Bottled In Scotland whiskies but are rapidly fading out. They are far too expensive. In the free market in India, The Black Dog Gold Reserve 12 YO Bottled In India is freely available at US$ 16-18 and below. The rush for this brand at this price by people who don't care where it was bottled is unbelievable. The 12 YO is the brand that is selling the fastest globally when seen YoY, averaging 45-50%!   

Black Dog's scorching growth contrasts with overall blended scotch sales coming under pressure globally, and within India, for different reasons. The only other blended scotch brands to report five-year double-digit growth are Black & White (19.8%), Old Parr (14.8%), Passport (13.7%) and VAT 69 (10%) among a list of the world's 50 top scotch brands compiled by International Wine & Spirit Research.

How Scotch Whisky is faring globally

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