Raw goat and cows milk yogurt, golden beet and ginger kvass, various crunchy krauts and voluptuous (yes, it really is that), lacto-fermented mayonnaise are keeping the kitchen shelves, counters and refrigerator full and our bodies healthier with their benefits. All of this culturing and fermentation is much more than a kick – it has become daily habit, and as I am a do-it-yourself-er in all areas of the kitchen, it was only a matter of time before I took a step towards home brewing and fermenting various alcoholic quaffs such as beer, meads and infusions.
Using Scott Mansfield’s non-intimidating and comprehensive guide, Strong Waters, A Simple Guide to Making Beer, Wine, Cider and Other Spirited Beverages at Home as a starting point, I was able to whisk together my first success with the Scottish cream drink of Atholl Brose (this drink is neither a fermented nor cultured beverage, but an “infusion”, in which herbs, spices or fruit are steeped in a distilled alcohol to extract their essences). Something about the combination of fresh cream, oats, honey and SCOTCH was particularly alluring and the equipment list was merely comprised of kitchen basics. No shopping required, as I had all of the ingredients in house, including new spring raw cream from grass-fed cows, and dark amber local Ohio buckwheat honey (which, in my estimation, qualifies this heady bevvie as another contender in the “healthy-ish cocktail” category – my blog, my rules!). For the whisky, I combined the contents of two ancient bottles of Chivas and Glenlivet excavated from a dusty box in the basement- this isn’t a recipe where you would want to use your prized single malts. I didn’t discern much of an oat flavor on first sipping, but as the beverage mellows, there is a round fullness one might attribute to the grains inclusion. At first week’s tasting, the drink is decidedly -WHOA- booze forward, another week of a fridge rest and the flavors started to mellow as a whole. The next week found the spirit smoother still – ready and welcome as a convivial capper to a late night Easter weekend celebration at friends.
Adapted by Heidi Robb via Scott Mansfield, author of Strong Waters
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3 cups water
1/4 cup (3 ounces) honey
1 cup whipping (heavy) cream
2 cups Scotch whiskey
1. Put the oats in a nylon straining bag (I use a paint strainer bag from the hardware store), and place the bag in a deep bowl. Add the water and let the oats steep overnight.
2. The next morning, squeeze the water out of the bag (do not expect to get a return of 3 cups liquid – there will be less), saving the oats for cooking or discard. Put the liquid in a saucepan, add the honey, and heat gently until the honey dissolves. Remove pan from heat and let cool slightly.
3. Stir in the cream, then add the whisky.
4. Refrigerate until cool before serving. The beverage will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of months, or in the freezer indefinitely.
I enjoyed this boozy concoction best served well-chilled in cordial glasses which were first filled with a touch more honey, and finished with a light grating of nutmeg. Mine also had a tendency to separate - a vigorous shake was all it took to restore it whole.
“A Brose is a Scottish dish of oatmeal and either water or milk. This lovely version is a drink attributed to an eighteenth-century Duke of Atholl…”. There’s more to this delightful anecdote, but you’ll need to buy the book :).