Last night I went on a magical tour of south Birmingham, past some pretty impressive suburban Christmas lights, getting off the bus to realise that winter has been incredibly late to the party but seems to be on its way. And just in time for Winter Solstice too.
With all the stressing about going to the other side of the world in a few days where it’s summer, I’d completely forgotten Winter Solstice was today but the nice people at Highland Park whisky reminded me. I’m not going to bore you with too much but the Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year for us in the Northern hemisphere which means we get the least amount of sunshine. And of course it’s a big celebration for lots of different cultures throughout history, but the people of the Orkney Island in Scotland get a big kick out of it largely due to their Neolithic archaeology, which they’re well known for. Particularly notable are the Runic inscriptions, a bit like Viking graffiti, on the inner walls of the Maeshowe – a Neolithic chambered cairn, which does some pretty cool things with the angle of the sunshine around the Winter Solstice. Also, Viking graffiti!
And with Winter Solstice being a significant time of year in the Nordic calendar and all that Viking history, you know the people of Orkney have a good reason to celebrate. And they also make Highland Park whisky, which means when it’s bloody cold outside and they’re celebrating, they’ve got something to toast with. The kind folk at Highland Park sent me a hip-flask of their Highland Park 12 Year Old whisky and a lovely snuggly scarf to keep me warm, so I can join in the fun too. The Highland Park 12 Year Old is a lovely dram; to me it’s smooth, with honey sweetness, a touch of fruit and a hint of sweet peaty smoke, but not overkill. I’ve been sipping it as I write this and I don’t think it’s going to last long, although I’m going to try and save some for later.
Because I’ve been coughing for weeks, Hot Toddys are pretty much my favourite thing at the moment and I need to find a way to mix them up. I get sent a lot of recipes and a lot of them, particularly cocktail ones, make me wonder if anyone has any clue about balance. But this one I think sounds alright, mainly because the Angostura bitters are going to balance out the sweetness from the honey, which itself compliments the Highland Park. Rooibos tea you can get in most supermarkets, you can probably switch it out for another type of tea but given it’s said to boost the immune system it makes this drink pretty much medicinal, right?
Highland Park Hot Toddy
Firstly, heat your tea cup or mug, then add:
- 50ml Highland Park 12 Year Old whisky
- 1tsp honey
- 130ml Rooibos Tea (tbh I just top up the glass)
- Add a dash of Angostura bitters or aromatic bitters
Give it a good stir and garnish with some lemon peel
…And whilst you’re at the kettle, can you make me one too?
Disclosure: Complimentary samples, not paid to say anything let alone positive…now can I go back to drinking whisky on a school night, please? It’s research.