Whisky night approaches

Okay, every night is whisky night but this one is the real deal. Soon it will be Hogmanay, which Scotland reveres far more than Christmas and always has. Christmas is a bit of sherry and beer but Hogmanay is stovies and whisky!

Stovies are a sort of mix of steak mince and mashed potato with some other stuff in there. As with haggis, I have some idea what’s in it but don’t actually care. It tastes good and it’s a good stodgy meal to absorb the excess booze.

If you haven’t used steak mince, I recommend it. It does wonders for lasagne.

Anyway. I already have a stock of whisky in. CStM gave me a bottle of Johnnie Walker’s White Walker for Christmas and I haven’t touched it yet. It’s a limited edition so I’ll be savouring that one. My brother sent me Chivas Regal which is not quite done yet because I have Tomatin and Aberlour as well.

I also have the box set of Dewar’s which is not yet touched because I forgot to put the little bottle of water in the fridge. The set includes a measuring thing. Measure the whisky in the big end, the water in the small end and combine the two.

I have been told many times that adding a little drop of water to a good whisky improves it. I never believed it until I moved here. Tap water is no good, it’s full of chlorine and fluoride and all sorts of other crap. It has to be pure water, untainted by chemicals.

Well… that’s what comes out of the tap here. Well water, UV treated and filtered but nothing at all added to it. And it works. A little dash of it makes any whisky more mellow and flavoursome. The stuff we get from the tap is treated better than even bottled water, especially water in plastic bottles that will leach out plasticisers.

I did wonder about the logic in the Dewar’s set though. It is claimed that the best water to add to your whisky is the water it was made with. Seems logical if more than a tad pretentious.

However, the Dewar’s is 12 years old. At least. It’s a blend so the age is determined by the youngest whisky in the blend, there could be older ones in there. The age only applies to the time in the barrel – there is no further ageing after bottling – so if the bottle has been sitting in a warehouse for a few years it’s even longer since the youngest whisky in this blend was distilled.

The spring water supplied with it is not 12 years old. So, since this whisky was made and barrelled, a hell of a lot of water has passed Pitilie Burn. The water in the bottle cannot be the water the whisky was made from unless it was bottled at the same time as the whisky was made. And I don’t mean distilled. I mean the first fermentation. That’s where the water arrived.

It would not be possible to do that. Water, when bottled, has an expiry date because it has been handled and processed. It could be underground for a million years but once handled it carries a risk – however trivial – of contamination by those who handle it. Twelve years is just not going to be allowed.

I’ll try it, of course, but I will not become one of the whisky snobs who thinks that the water in a burn is the same water that was in it 12 years ago. Maybe it’s even better than my current UV treated and double filtered well water. We shall see.

If it is defintitively better then I will have to visit Pitilie Burn with a few glass (not plastic) bottles.

I do have an unreasonable number of five-litre conical flasks here now…

14 thoughts on “Whisky night approaches

  1. My granny, who hailed from your neck of the woods by.the way, made stovies using left over cuts of meat if she had them. (She frequently had relatives from Tongue, who used her place as a b and b, and they invariably brought pre cooked beef or a lamb shank plus goodness knows what to say thanks. Granny married late, was widowed very early in her marriage and the welfare state wasn’t awful generous).

    If not, then Mum would be tasked with getting beef brisket that we’d have one day and stovies the next. She didn’t have a fridge, just a proper larder that for most of the year was as good as a fridge.

    Prepped exactly as described. Soften an onion, warm the meat then add mashed spuds as well as salt. Pretty well the same as I do to make corned beef hash, though I do add cut green chillies with the meat to jazz it up.

    Way I heard it – and I am talking about people whose ancestors were tenant farmers – is the landlord demanded the best wool as well as a certain number of sheep in payment for their keeping their croft.

    The sheep had to be butchered, however the crofter could keep some of the offal. Of course the landlord wanted the kidneys, heart, brains and frequently the liver, but they had no interest in the lungs nor intestines.

    So Haggis will always be made of various bits of sheep offal. Some butchers include kidney, but for the most part the main ingredient is sheep lungs as well as oatmeal, spices and that’ll be packed into bits of intestines.

    However I can’t be bothered with queueing at a butcher, so just buy a can of Grants Haggis. On the side of the can it says “lamb ,lobes”, however Sainsbury’s doesn’t use fancy words, they just call it what the common man knows – lungs.


    And there endeth the lecture for the day.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. When I was young we often had stovies. Always, before the meal my father would say ‘Hebrews 13 and 8″ then start eating. It was only when I was a bit older, about 14, I asked why he always said ‘Hebrews 13 and 8’ before eating.

    He told me to look up my bible: Hebrews chapter 13, verse 8. I did.

    ‘And Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever’

    Dark looks from my mother!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m no whisky expert, but I believe that it is 40 over proof when they put it in the cask and comes out a bit weaker 3 or more years later. It then has water added to bring it down to 70 proof. So, if the time between bottling and hitting the supermarket shelf is short, you may well have the same water in both bottles.


    • You’re right of course – they could bottle the water as they dilute it from cask strength, so it would be the same water as the diluting water.

      Still not the water the original was made from, but close enough 😉


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