Thursday, 9 July 2009

6. Irish Whiskey Punch

This is the genuine Irish beverage. It is generally made one-third pure whiskey, two-thirds boiling water, in which the sugar has been dissolved. If lemon punch, the rind is rubbed on the sugar, and a small proportion of juice added before the whiskey is poured in.

2 ounces Bushmills Original - 40%ABV
4 ounces boiling water
1 teaspoon caster sugar

Method: Add sugar to glass, add half the boiling water and stir until dissolved. Add the whiskey and the other half of the boiling water, stir and serve.
Glass: Glass footed/stemmed glass or mug
Garnish: N/A
Ice: N/A
Notes: A relatively simple beverage, which should be made at a ratio depending how you like your drinks. The sugar and water do enough to soften the whiskey, and it obviously goes down well on cold days, which we get many of in Scotland.

For those interested in making the drink, I highly recommend using different types of sweeteners, as well as different citrus fruits for those who prefer to have another depth of flavour. Vanilla sugar is an obvious choice which will do a lot to enhance the notes in many whiskies, although I wouldn't stop there. Honeys, syrups, flavoured sugars and preserves will all offer something different depending on the style of whisky/whiskey used.

This style of drink would more closely resemble what most people nowadays refer to as a Hot Toddy as opposed to a punch.

With regards the toddy, there is some belief that the name toddy may have derived from the traditional Indian beverage of the same name, which is made from the sap of palm trees. It's easy to see why there may be a link to India if you take into account how similar a traditional Indian Punch (arrack, sugar, lemon, tea, water) is to what we'd call a Hot Toddy (whisky, sweetener, lemon juice, hot water and sometimes spices), although toddy may have been an old Scottish term for water.

This is believed to relate to 'Tod's Well' which used to supply Edinburgh with water. This is referenced in Scottish poet Allan Ramsay's 'The Morning Interview' (Pages 16-17), published in the early 1700s.

"A sumptuous Treat does crown the ended War,
And all rich Requisites are brought from far,
The Table boasts its being from JAPAN,
The ingenious work of some great artisan.
CHINA, where potters coarsest Mould refine,
That Light through the transparent jar does shine,
The costly plates and Dishes are from thence,
And AMAZONIA must her Sweets dispense;
To her warm Banks, our vessels cut the Main,
For the sweet Product of her luscious Cane;
Here SCOTIA does no costly Tribute bring,
Only some Kettles of + TODIAN spring."


+ TOD'S-WELL which supplies the City with Water

With the name of the spring in mind, and taking into account the style of writing in the poem, it may be assumed that 'toddy' was an amusing term for water in Scotland. This belief is strengthened by the fact that whisky at the time was referred to as aqua, also remembering whisky took its name from water (uisge). So water was toddy, and whisky was aqua.

Here's a link to an article from the New York Times, printed on January 1st 1871 - For whatever reason the link doesn't open when you click on it so you'll have to copy and paste it folks.


Adam Elmegirab
Bar Consultant / Compounder
Evo-lution / Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters

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