Balblair collaborate with Dram & Smoke to produce whisky pairing recipes

Wine is fine, but some evenings call for a dram of something stronger. Multi-award winning Single Malt Scotch whisky distillery, Balblair, have collaborated with Scottish culinary creatives Dram & Smoke to produce a number of recipes designed to be paired with whisky.

Both originating from the Scottish Highlands, Balblair’s collaboration with Dram & Smoke focuses on some comprehensive recipes worth every second of the time taken to produce at home. This charcoal venison bun with bramble sauce, for instance, is designed to be paired with a cocktail of Balblair’s 05 expression with thyme and heather honey. “The luxurious sweetness of the venison ragù benefits from the bright tartness of this cocktail that cuts through the richness of the bun.”

“Designed to be eaten in one hand, these fluffy steamed buns turned a striking black colour with the addition of charcoal, filled with a rich and sweet braised venison reduction. A small pipette of bramble sauce is inserted into the bun to squeeze into the centre. Bun is topped with flakes of smoked sea salt.”


Makes eight

For the Dough

Bread flour, 250g, Sifted

00 pasta flour, 50g, Sifted

Charcoal powder, 5g

Caster sugar, 20g

Dried yeast, 14g

Warm milk, 20g

Tepid water, 165g

Unsalted butter, 125g, cubed

Hebridean smoked sea salt

For the Bramble Sauce

Brambles, 100g, fresh or frozen

Caster sugar, 100g

Port, 100ml

Red wine vinegar, 25ml

Star anise, 1

For the Venison Ragu

Diced venison mince, 350g

Large banana shallot, 2, finely diced

Garlic, 3 cloves, finely diced

Fennel, 1, finely diced

Sherry, 200ml

Beef stock, 100ml

Thyme leaves, 3g, finely chopped

Rosemary leaves, 3g, finely sliced

Tomato purée, 1 tbsp


To make the dough, combine the ingredients and mix in an electric mixer, using a dough hook, until a smooth dough forms and all the butter has been fully incorporated. Cover with Clingfilm and leave to prove for one hour.

Portion the dough into eight 50g balls. Place the balls on an oiled baking sheet and cover with a clean tea towel, leave to prove for another hour at room temperature.

In a heavy-bottomed pan brown the venison mince over a high heat then add the garlic, shallots, thyme, rosemary & fennel. Once the meat has caramelised and the veg has softened, add the tomato purée and continue cooking for a minute. Add the Sherry and stock, season and reduce the heat to a simmer. Reduce until a thick consistency is achieved.  Set aside and leave to cool.

In a small pan, gently simmer all the ingredients for the bramble sauce until the sugar has dissolved and the berries have broken down. Continue reducing until it has thickened to the consistency of ketchup. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve into a dipping dish (or to take the dish to the next level, fill pipettes with the sauce and skewer into the centre of the buns so that guests can squeeze themselves!).

Once the dough balls have almost doubled in size and the mince mixture has cooled to room temperature, fill each dough ball with 40g of venison, pinch the edges to reform the ball shape and generously sprinkle smoked sea salt over the top.

Using a bamboo steamer, place the buns over a pot of boiling water and steam for 11 minutes. Serve immediately.

Enjoy with a dram of Balblair 05.

Further information on Balblair can be found at

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