While on a tour of the Traveling Whisky Emporium, we chatted with Scotch expert and John Dewar & Sons North American Ambassador, Gabe Cardarella, about scotch, Dewar's founder Tommy Dewar, and his love for travel.
Chef Michael Voltaggio (left) shows of a bottle of Dewar's whisky at a celebration with Gabe Cardarella (right).
Amy Fischer: The Traveling Whisky Emporium is a celebration of Dewar's founder Tommy Dewar. What's it been like celebrating his legacy and what are some of the highlights of being part of creating the Traveling Whisky Emporium experience?
Gabe Cardarella: The beautiful thing about working for Dewar’s is its authenticity. What we do today comes from Tommy Dewar, who traveled the world on all different modes of transportation. Our inspiration came through in the form of the Traveling Whisky Emporium. The idea was if you could take a distillery and merge with an actual home that could travel across the country, it'd be exactly what Tommy would have wanted us to build today. A lot of the fun in designing it was taking collaborating with chef Michael Voltaggio, and the best tiny home builders in the country, and seeing everything come to life. The highlight for me was working with the chef and the tiny home builders to come up with what we saw would make Tommy proud.
Since you're currently in Boston, what do you make of our whisky scene?
GC: The Boston whisky scene has always been big and it’s an amazing place for us, as a whisky company, to show up with such a footprint with the Traveling Whisky Emporium and to showcase what makes the production of our whisky so special. It’s an honor to be in such an influential town—not only to meet with industry insiders and to bring the community to this tiny home to share our story, but also to give whisky drinkers a peek at what makes Dewar’s so special as well.
What is the inspiration behind each of these signature cocktails?
GC: Traditionally, most folks think that you must enjoy scotch neat or with just an ice cube—anything beyond that is taboo. We push that envelope, especially during the summer months. It’s August here in Boston, so to drink whisky neat probably wouldn’t be the most refreshing way to enjoy it. We empower local bartenders to put their twists on our liquid and showcase what they can do, but also to complement the season. I feel comfortable serving Dewar’s anytime, but how I approach that is based on the time of the year is important to how I drink my whisky. Dewar’s 12, for example, its already complex. You don’t need a whole lot to make this a special cocktail, but we do like to see what top bartenders will do when traveling to various cities.
How did you connected with chef Michael Voltaggio to create the Scotch egg recipes tailored to each city you're visiting?
GC: If you look at the way that we produce Dewar’s whiskys, we do things in very long-winded ways, things that we don’t have to do that are very time consuming, but that to us are the standard to making great scotch. We took that and thought, “We need a chef that really appreciates doing things in a unique way.” Voltaggio is no stranger to that, you never know what he is using or how his processes are going to be and he makes his food so well. For us, it made sense to partner with a chef that does things his own special way, because that’s how we make our whisky. He also developed a special Scotch egg for every city we visit, when we were in Chicago, he made a hot dog Scotch egg. He used a ballpark mustard infused with Dewar’s 12—an amazing take. For Boston, we have a traditional Scotch egg, since Boston has a lot of traditions, and a lot of things start here, whether it's culinary or drink. Every Scotch egg that chef Voltaggio creates brings each city to life while showcasing our whisky.
Any behind the scenes stories that you can share with us? Any celebrity visitors to the whisky emporium?
GC: We’ve been lucky enough to have the tiny home featured at various music events across the country. In Chicago, we were at Pitchfork. In Denver, we were at the Underground Music Showcase. I’m a big indie music fan, so I was a little starstruck when Benjamin Booker came into our tiny home and got a Dewar’s Scotch egg. He even went over to the vaporizing machine and enjoyed that. We have a lot of folks come in and out of this thing. They want to come hear the story of Dewar’s and see this tiny home, to see something that they could live in for a year. Most people are saying, “This I could do.”
Dewar's Traveling Whisky Emporium will be making stops in New York City, Austin, Los Angeles, and Miami. Follow along by visiting @dewars and @whiskybehavior on Instagram.