Tis the season of winter warmers and the wonder of whiskey liqueurs

Words by Neil Henty.

YOU’LL have noticed the weather has turned. Yes, I know it’s still pouring with rain, but it’s definitely got windier and chillier. At home, the question of turning the heating on has been asked more than once and rugs and blankets are populating the living room.
This time of year is preparation season, or should that be preservation season… We tackled sloe gin in the first issue but there is no reason not to experiment further. Bottle of spirit, some fruit lying around, a bit of sugar in the cupboard. It’s a recipe for something, that’s for sure.
While I do like a good whiskey, I have on occasion been known to drink a bad one or two, but that’s another story. Vodka lends itself well to steeping fruit that can gradually imbue the clear spirit with its colour and taste, but other spirits are less easily tamed.
Gin is tricky because of the many botanicals all fighting for your taste buds. Whiskey is another beast altogether. There are some who like a mixer. We’ll move on quickly.
There are also some who insist on a drop of room temperature water to help open up the oils.
But for want of winter warmer there are a number of ways to combine fruit and whiskey to arrive at a very pleasant sipping drink.
I first came across a whiskey ginger liqueur from the Lyme Bay Winery. It was a little bit of a revelation. A birthday present I wasn’t expecting that became a staple whenever I was passing that way.
The ginger and whiskey worked well together, tempered with an overtone of honey.
I always thought I would like to make my own version and there are quite a few recipes out there. My favourite so far comes from the Larder Love website. Essentially, most recipes call for whiskey, citrus fruits, root ginger and sugar.
Some, like the Larder Love version, require a herb as well, in this case a stick of rosemary.
Measurements vary depending on just how much citrus twist you prefer. You can use any combination of orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit (pink or red). Likewise, sugar can be replaced by honey though you might want to experiment with the quantity.
It is a fairly quick liqueur to make, both in terms of preparation time and how long it takes before you can enjoy it.

So, if we base our drink on the Larder Love recipe, you will need:
500ml scotch whisky
1 unwaxed orange
1 unwaxed lemon
1 unwaxed lime (or you can swap one out for grapefruit)
2cm piece of fresh root ginger, grated (again, adjust for taste)
A sprig of fresh rosemary (optional)
225g granulated sugar or an equivalent amount of honey.
You’ll also need a 1ltr kilner jar. Make sure you get a good one that has a strong seal as you’ll be shaking the mixture everyday for a week, and you don’t want to let the liquid escape (I speak from bitter, or rather sweet, experience).
Have your jar (sterilised first) ready. Pop in the rosemary stick if using, pour in the whiskey (use whatever you prefer here), pour in the sugar or honey. Peel and grate the ginger then add to the jar. For each citrus fruit, pare the rind, then add that and the juice to the jar.
Seal the jar and give it a good, vigorous shake. Then place it in a cool, dark cupboard. Every day for the
first week, shake, shake, shake, really giving it a good going over. The aim is to dissolve the sugar into the liquid.
Once all the sugar has dissolved, leave the jar alone for another week (if you can for two more weeks, I know, I didn’t). Then strain through a muslin cloth into a pouring jug and use a funnel to fill your chosen storage bottles.
A delicious winter warmer that even non-whiskey fans will enjoy (responsibly, of course).

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