Niagara Gazette — Dear Mainland Sippers — Keep this quiet, but Doug has a little drink every night before lights out. His doctor recommends it. Practically urges it. Doug wishes he could claim it as a medical expense but Dr. Feelgood won’t write a prescription.
Doug prefers Old Saddlesoap, in a big-bottomed bottle with a long neck and a waxy red seal. Polly likes the aroma but wouldn’t touch a drop even if it fell on one of her romance novels. It packs a bit more lather than most of its peers, 90 proof, which in the weird science of hard liquor means it’s 45 percent alcohol by volume. It doesn’t take much to propel Doug into the land of dreams, most of which involve missing a Gazette deadline.
The year we drove Route 62 (2,163 miles, Niagara Falls to El Paso), we stumbled upon the distillery in Kentucky. We didn’t stumble out, but we did get to inhale and Doug wax-dipped a bottle of his own. Old Saddlesoap officially lists him as an “Ambassador.”
Last Saturday night, “Ambassador Doug” received a communique from Saddlesoap headquarters informing him that because supplies were running low, they planned to add water, reducing the volume of alcohol in the formula “by 3 percent.”
Doug was outraged. This is enough to make him switch back to Tennessee Tar. The change in the formula was bad enough (can you say “New Coke?”), but the real insult was to the intelligence of anyone who hadn’t just consumed a quart.
The rationale surely took its inspiration from James Carville, notorious Saddlesoap consumer and creator of Original Spin (“Look what you get when you drag a $100 bill through a trailer park …”)
• That reduction “by 3 percent”? Guess again. Old Saddlesoap will temper its “kick” from 45 to 42. That’s not 3 percent, that’s nearly 7.