Monday, January 23, 2012

The Famous Brose

I think there are two ways to look at something like this:

One is that, if someone with no direct or historical ties to Scotland starts making whisky punch with oatmeal in it, he's a little too fond of whisky.

The other is that, if someone with no direct or historical ties to Scotland starts making whisky punch with oatmeal in it, he has a much deeper problem than fondness for whisky.

Whichever way you look at it: My name is Tom, and I've started making whisky punch with oatmeal in it.

More precisely, I've made one small batch of Atholl Brose, a Scottish drink made from oatmeal and whisky. One traditional recipe, the one I followed, is simply:
  • 7 parts oatmeal brose (liquid from soaking oatmeal in water)
  • 7 parts whisky
  • 5 parts cream
  • 1 part honey
Now, having no personal or historical ties to Scotland, I wasn't overly concerned with authenticity. I used instant oatmeal for the brose, I used store brand clover honey instead of good quality heather honey. And I used a cocktail shaker instead of a silver spoon to mix the drink.

The Famous Grouse, though: of that, at least, a Scottish grandmother might approve.

A small bottle is in the fridge, marrying for a couple of days. (Since I didn't get a chance to make haggis dumplings, this seems to be the best way to bring oatmeal and whisky together on Burns Night.) What didn't fit in the bottle went into a glass (with some ice, and you're right, sorry, there shouldn't be any ice involved).

Having tasted it, I'll say this: It takes a lot more than oatmeal to ruin whisky, cream, and honey.

No, actually I kind of like the oat flavor the brose brings to the mix. It adds a nuttiness and body that helps balance the richness of the cream and the sweetness of the honey. Atholl Brose is sometimes compared to Irish cream, and I did use my Bailey's glass to taste it, though my batch at least is creamier and less sweet. Some people say it's sort of like egg nog; that's too far a stretch for me, but then I've had a lot of different drinks with cream in them (and I don't put Scotch in my egg nog).

The next time I make Atholl Brose -- and I expect there will be a next time, though it probably won't be later this week -- I'll try it with steel cut oatmeal and take more care to squeeze out all the liquid, to make sure I'm getting the right proportion of oatmeal. I may spring for some Scottish honey.

And, who knows, I may even feel Scottish enough -- which is to say, brave enough -- to offer some to my wife.
But tell me whisky's name in Greek
I'll tell the reason.

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