Blackberry Whisky

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Having been enthused by my attempts at Elderberry liqueur I have endeavor to concoct some other alcoholic infusions this autumn. Inspired by my like of malt whisky I investigated the use of whisky as the infusing spirit. In my copy of The Scots Cellar by F. Marian McNeill I discovered instructions for the preparation of sloe whisky, similar to the much more well known sloe gin, the recipe calling for a rather extravagant half a gallon of whisky. Perhaps a testament to the whisky drinking enthusiasm of the old Scots. Unfortunately for me blackthorn trees seem to be uncommon around Aberdeen and the crop has been rather poor in other parts of eastern Scotland this year. As an alternative I found several recipes for blackberry infused whisky including one by John Wright in the Guardian.

While I would have preferred to use wild collected blackberries, as these are reputed to produce a more complex flavour, a small wild crop in the areas I looked meant that I decided to leave what was there for the birds as it is likely they needed the food more than I needed some whisky. Sainsbury’s provided me with an alternative crop of Scottish blackberries.

For a whisky I chose  some Teacher’s Highland Cream a widely available blended whisky that also just happened to be on sale at the time. There is little use in using an expensive single malt for an infusion like this as the distinctive flavours are likely to be lost through mixing with the fruit and sugar. Conversely I would rather not chose the cheapest whisky available and risk diminishing the resulting drink.

White caster sugar seems to be often recommended as it dissolves more readily in the spirit. I used some regular supermarket cane caster sugar. My recipe also uses rather less sugar than most instructions suggest as I am less keen on overly sweet drinks and more sugar can be added later to adjust the sweetness.

Blackberry whisky:

  • 1 litre of Teacher’s whisky
  • 600 grams of blackberries
  • 300 grams of sugar

Combine the ingredients into a large clean and dry jar. Close the lid and shake to mix and then shake again every day until the sugar is dissolved. As to the volume of the mixed ingredients these filled a 1.5 liter Kilner jar with the remainder having to be put into an old screw-top jar. A single two liter jar would have been a better choice.

A couple of months seems to be the minimum time to leave the blackberries infusing though the longer the better. The rather alcoholic fruit can then be removed and eaten and the whisky decanted into bottles for drinking or putting away to mature if possible.  I will be looking forward to tying some this winter.

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