Ardbeg (www.ardbeg.com), the maker of what is considered the smokiest of Islay whiskies, has released examples of its 1974 vintage in a forceful package: a rifle case designed by the London-based gun manufacturer James Purdey & Sons. The company has set a price of $20,000 for each of the 50 cases. Each hand-stitched leather enclosure includes two numbered bottles of the single-cask Scotch, eight sterling silver cups, an Omas fountain pen, and a leather book to record tasting notes (or shooting scores). . . . The Culinary Insti-tute of America has launched a course for the hands-on epicure. The CIA Sophisticated Palate program (www.ciachef.edu), held at the institute’s Napa Valley campus, provides cooking classes and immerses participants in local dining, farmer’s markets, and gourmet food shopping trips. This being Napa, wine pairings figure prominently in the proceedings. Four-day programs cost about $4,000 per person, two-day sessions about $2,000.