How do you know you have Scots DNA running through your veins? Well with a mother’s maiden name like Macbeth, there really is no need for any additional investigation. You’d also think by that distinctive status there would be very little aversion to partaking in the nationally acclaimed pastime of drinking Whiskey? Erh no, quite the opposite in fact! Come hell or high water, the onset of any shivers brought with it that highly prized Scottish remedy the ‘Hot Toddy’, namely hot water, whiskey, honey or sugar and lemon. The medicinal part was obviously the vitimin C from the lemon, but in days gone by it wasn’t so renowned for its curative powers. Again in what quantities this was all presented was either a closely guarded secret, or an adhoc concoction derived from the forgotten corners of the press. As always, the ensuing reaction in my early years left a mental scar; “my god Mother, this is truly awful stuff ”.
“Get it down ye lad, it’s good for you”, was the usual response towards any distension in the ranks.
It’s not hard to imagine then, as the decades rolled by, that there was a creeping aversion to anything that resembled the amber ‘aqua vitae’, although as an ordinary active teenager, sampling anything with and alcoholic content over 2% was considered a must. It wasn’t until a sales trip North of the boarder to Inverness, a decade or two later, that a colleague handed over a ‘Single Malt’ at the end of the evening. Hmmm, not quite the paint stripper expected (harking back to those days of sinking the obligatory Bell’s Whiskey at New Year’s – Hogmanay) but still, there was indeed something quite acceptable, perhaps something to be savoured, a blessing perhaps, now that taste buds had entered their late thirties.
Not to be outshone, the real deal was eventually to arrive in the form of the Irish Triple Distilled variety. Now I’m not about to get into the machinations of taste, texture, colour, barrel type, soil or nationalistic tendencies, but for me we had now arrived at what I thought Whiskey drinking was all about. And, with that bit of Scots DNA flowing through the veins I also drank ‘the good stuff’ as God intended, unsullied by any other foreign matter such as ice and mixers. Certainly my grand folk would have been impressed, I often mused. So when the notion of having a ‘Hot Whiskey’ arrived, having taken to the winter shivers once again, this certainly jarred with the whole idea of consuming a glass of that hairy bare chested thoroughbred of Whiskey’s. It wasn’t until being reminded of the mental scars, that the epiphany eventually arrived that this may indeed have been acceptable to the ancestors after-all.
The immediate though was well, what is the traditional recipe? Sadly, my elderly Scots relatives had long passed so there was no one in my near vicinity to ask. Sure, there was a bit of an idea floating around, but I eventually gave up wasting good Whiskey on concoctions that turned out too cold, flavourless, and anemic. But what was this elusive traditional recipe? Again, there were a few pointers out there already in the pub trade but convenience, and the need for an expedient service, had thrown up short cuts like microwaving the concoction. I later learned that cooking the thing actually reduced the alcohol content, a notion that certainly which went against the grain (excuse the pun). So what was learned during these last years of traveling the pubs in Counties Limerick & Clare (close to where I now live) in search of the elusive perfect offering?
It appears the common ingredient for the best ‘Hot Whiskey’ came from the oiler varieties, a pot still produced Whiskey, or one that contained around at least 70-80% of the blend as Pot Still derived. To give you an idea Jameson would be around 50%, Powers in contrast would be 80%. Certainly the oiler types added a rich base and viscosity, which wouldn’t disperse easily on adding water. Next was the type of sugar. A spoon full dissolved would once again be either too sharp, if white refined was used, or likewise add to the depth as Demerara would. My choice was definitely to go for the brown sugar every time.
The next bit is definitely, where paths diverge. Most pubs and homesteads will throw a few cloves in, around four or five, or ornately stick them into a slice of Lemon as an attempt at a cocktail decoration, minus of course the obligatory umbrella. Cloves certainly add a distinct flavour as does a little squeeze of Lemon which adds that biting citrus value, but having explored a few alternative restaurant offerings and enjoyed a few home trials of my own, it has to be said there are plenty of other spices like Cinnamon for one, that adds even more character to the glass.
Where’s this all heading? Well I eventually managed to perfect a recipe that introduces a great balance of ‘Spice’ to create the ideal Gourmet Style ‘Hot Whiskey’, one that I’d like you to try and can purchase from our on-line shop today. In this enlightened age of alternative eating and choosing foods which are good for us, what better way than to get hold of an old classic and add, not just a gourmet twist, but to introduce a bunch of really meaningful ingredients that are renowned for their homeopathic properties as well as flavour. Such as Super-food levels of anti-oxidants, anti-bacterial properties for fighting infections, and boosting the immune system, plus mineral contents that deal with heart disease, diabetes, blood pressure and neurological deterioration to name just a few!
So when someone says they are having a hot whiskey for medicinal purposes, indeed in part it could very well be true. On the other hand the recipe does possess, and always has, that unmistakable quality of hitting the right spot on a cold winters day!