Pete Ste­wart chooses the drinks to ac­com­pany Shirley’s recipes:

The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - FOOD & DRINK -

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. in­ver­ar­i­ty­mor­

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