Drinker’s edition: Scotland’s pride meets an upstart. Plus: Tailgating!


When you think of the words “alcohol” and “Scotland,” chances are only one image comes to mind — that brassy imbibible, that defining whisky of the isles, the embodiment of the macho man in a bar: Scotch. I mean, the U.K. is known for whiskies, beers and not much more … right?

Not so fast. Caorunn is a small-batch gin I just discovered — produced by the Balmaenach Distillery in the famed scotch-making Highland region of Speyside. And while it contains the traditional seasonings of gin (juniper, citrus peel, cassia bark, coriander), the uniqueness of its flavor comes from the addition of Celtic botanicals like heather, bog myrtle, Rowan berry and dandelion, which impart a fresh, floral and aromatic signature. As a proud gin afficionado, I enjoy variations on a theme, especially when they work well (as this does) with everything from tonic to champagne. (I’ll have a Caorunn recipe or two on InstantTea for Cocktail Friday in the coming weeks.)

Still, if you’re more of a Scottish traditionalist, there are some exquisite ones from Glenfiddich you should try. Newly out is The Original. Inspired by Glenfiddich’s 1963 release — the product that invented the category of single-malt scotch in the U.S. — the eight- to ten-year-old Original is a high-end entry point for scotch newbies (at $99/bottle, you gotta want it) with a fruitiness that opens up brightly with just a few drops of water or a single ice cube.  For a mellower, more artisanal single malt (also beautifully packaged), the Kininvie Batch No. 2 is a luscious 23-year-old (hey, aren’t most 23-year-olds that?) which imparts its fruit on the backend. And if you’re lucky enough to find the uber-rare Ladyburn — a 41-year-old from Glenfiddich — don’t pollute it with even a drop of water: It’s perfect like it is. At $2,000/bottle, it had better be.

Scotch also figures in another surprising item. Disaronno has released its first limited-edition new product since the recipe was developed in 1525. Disaronno Riserva adds scotch to the almond-flavored liqueur, and ages the blend in Marsala wine casks. It’ll set you back $349.

For a different kind of liquor, you should grab tickets to Touchdown Tailgate, the newest foodie event that arrives just in time for football season. Local chefs — among them Patton Robertson (the upcoming Shelby Hall), Nathan Tate (Rapscallion), Danyele McPherson (Remedy), Anastacia Quinones (Kitchen LTO) and Jacob Williamson (Five Sixty) — will prepare gourmet versions of standard tailgate dishes, and attendees can vote on their favorites. But to wash it all down will be spirits from Reilly’s Whiskey and Leprechaun Cider. (I’ll have a Reilly’s recipe next week online for Cocktail Friday.) The event takes place at Expressions Home Gallery on Sept. 13 from 1–3 p.m.; proceeds benefit Cafe Momentum. Tickets at SMPREvents.eventbrite.com.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 4, 2015.