Pete Stewart chooses the drinks to accompany Shirley’s recipes:
ISIMPLY love this time of year, and not just because of the iced gingerbread. Hallowe’en has to be one of the best celebrations, with tiny little ghosts and monsters knocking on your door demanding sweeties while asking why the skeleton didn’t go to the party, or why witches wear badges. I love it.
In between guisers, you obviously need a fortifying beverage and I would suggest a wee whisky. I’ve had several people in the shop this week looking for a nice whisky, and they’ve all suffixed their request by saying “a single malt, obviously”. A lot of people shy away from blends, and I think this is a real shame. Without blends we wouldn’t even have a whisky industry in Scotland, with nine out of 10 Scottish whiskies sold being blended whiskies. (Not blended malts, and there is a distinction).
A single malt is the product of a single distillery, though it may be (and usually is) a blend of barrels from within that one distillery. A blended malt is a combination of single malts from a number of distilleries, with no grain whisky added. We used to be able to call these bottles pure malts or vatted malts, but the correct term is now blended malts. A blended whisky is a mix of single malts and grain whiskies, and includes household names such as Famous Grouse, Bell’s, Chivas Regal and Johnnie Walker.
A single malt is not automatically better than a blended malt or a blended whisky, it’s just different. It’s a pure expression of a particular style, and if it suits your palate then it’s probably the one for you. But blended whiskies were created for the bigger market and they certainly deserve a place in your drinks cabinet at home.
Seek out a bottle of the light, refreshing Cutty Sark or the smooth and fruity Ballantine’s Finest and you’ll immediately see the value of one of our best exports.
Now, as we’re munching gingerbread and sneaking the occasional fun-sized Mars Bar from the bowl, I would suggest pimping your blended whisky by the addition of the King’s Ginger. A 50/50 blend of whisky and this noble liqueur creates a Ginger Mac cocktail, and it’s sure to make your Hallowe’en go with a bang. The King’s Ginger (Waitrose, £22 for 50cl) was created in 1903 by Berry Brothers and Rudd to fortify and revitalise King Edward VII when he was driving his new horseless carriage (a very lovely Daimler). Please don’t try this now, as the King’s Ginger will impair your ability to drive, especially when added to whisky.
If you don’t fancy the whisky element, it can also be added to mulled wine for an extra spicy seasonal kick. Pete Stewart is Glasgow director of Inverarity One To One, 185a Bath Street, Glasgow www. inveraritymorton.com