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John Dewar

Those that attended this past Sunday’s Taste Williamsburg Greenpoint were certain to have had a satisfying experience. The warm weather, eclectic group of vendors, and generally welcoming atmosphere made for an enjoyable afternoon in the last throes of summer. In fact, one of the day’s most alluring stands came from John Dewar and Sons Traveling Whisky Emporium, which was conveniently placed right in the middle of the festival grounds. Those that went to this particular attraction were likely to leave with a spring in their step, and a little inkling of history in their thoughts.

Described as a “tiny whisky house”, the Dewar aesthetic certainly seems to be trying to attract a retro fit. The mobile emporium is plated with wood paneling, and its interior carries vintage books and antiquated furniture that could make one think they’ve stepped into the abode of some eccentric type of alchemist. Then again though, the emporium is a modern equipped transport, on further inspection, as it possesses a fully working bathroom, and compact bunk-bed right above it.

Despite carrying the name John Dewar in its title, the current iteration of the group is more modeled off of the ideology of John Dewar’s son, Tommy. Tommy was very much a free-spirit, who wanted to travel the world and experience all types of transportation (his exploits would see him travel by boat, trolly, camel, etc..). Trying to preserve Tommy’s spirit, John Dewar’s and Sons, after spending generations as a stationary entity, has revived the “traveling” nature of its brand, and the results have proven quite successful.

Having only revived the concept two months ago, the emporium has already been around the country and back. “It’s really been a great experience, to share and present our whisky in a our own unique way,” explained Gabriel Cardarella, the North American Ambassador for John Dewar and Sons. Cardarella even states that he feels that other whisky providers project a pretentious air, while at Dewar and Sons it’s all about accessibility. “Scotch doesn’t have to be rule-driven. We respect the rules, but we also want to have fun.

Open throughout the day, the vendor offered a wealth of activities for passer-by’s. Presenting a chicken bingo game (in which people would predict which number a toy chicken would lay an egg on), the emporium was able to gain the attention of visitors to TASTE. Those that stayed were also awarded with a fine selection of cocktails and highballs in which they could use their drink tickets on. With a portfolio consisting of 5 single malts, there was a host of different drinks to choose from, all with their own unique flavor.

On the food end, however, the Dewar brand continued to showcase its consideration, and dedication towards high quality. Those that got a drink from the Traveling Emporium were additionally given a token which they could then exchange for a scotch egg. “We wanted to give scotch eggs to the unknowing,” explained Cardarella. I myself admit that I had not been privy to the existence of this delectable dish until last Sunday, and I found this exposure of it to be fully rewarding.

The scotch eggs (which are baked hard-boiled eggs surrounded by sausage, and coated in bread-crumbs) were all prepared by Dewar and Sons’ chef Michael Voltaggio. Described as a chef with an utmost unique approach (and penchant for making great pairings with whiskey), Voltaggio has challenged himself by making a different style for the eggs in each city.  In Chicago, he applied bulldog mustard in homage to the city’s world-renowned baseball hot-dogs, and in L.A. he applied falafal ingredients to them. For New York, Voltaggio predictably attempted to make pizza-flavored scotch-eggs and it worked tremendously. “We feel the scotch really brings out the soul in these dishes,” Cardarella explains. “It’s the heart of the city!

Despite the great feedback that The Traveling Whiskey Emporium has been receiving, Dewar and Sons wants to keep its operations fairly low-key for the time being. “We’re still in our infancy,” Cardarella says. “We don’t want to go to huge events, and our trying to remain local and simple.” Still, the Traveling Emporium will be hitting the road again soon where they’ll be returning to Austin, and going to New Orleans for the very first time.  More information here.