beer, wine and whiskey

heather ale

As my story poem commences ...with these words from Robert Louis Stevenson

From the bonny bells of heather,
They brewed a drink Lang Syne
Was sweeter far than honey
Was stronger far than wine.

Here's a Heather Ale recipe that works

Ingredients: Heather, hops, barm, honey, ginger and water. ‘

cut heather flowers when in full bloom,
and fill a large pot.
fill the large pot with water to cover the blooms
and boil for one hour

strain into a clean tub.
measure the liquid and for every 8 pints, a gallon,
add one ounce of ground ginger,
add half an ounce of hops
add one pound of honey or golden syrup or both
bring to the boil again and simmer for 20 minutes.

strain into a clean cask.
let it stand until luke warm
add a teacupful of good barm
barm is brewer's yeast frothed up
then dip in a teacup for each gallon
cover with a coarse cloth and let it stand for a day

skim residue off of the top carefully
pour the liquid slowly and gently into a clean tub
so that the sunken barm is left at the bottom of the cask
bottle and cork tightly

Ale will be ready for use in a week.
and beware as alcohol content is high quite quicly with Heather Ale

heather wine


1½Ibs. Heather Flowers in full bloom
1 gallon of water
3-4 lbs. of sugar or honey or some of both
2 Lemons
2 Oranges
1 teaspoon. dried yeast
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient, available at home brewing supplies

cut heather flowers when in full bloom,
and place in a large pot.
pour the water into the pot to cover the blooms
and boil for one hour

strain into a clean tub.
measure the liquid and top up with luke warm water
to make it a gallon again,
add the sugar and/or honey and stir to dissolve

when the temperature of the liquid falls to 70F, 21C
add the yeast and yeast nutrient
cover with muslin cloth and leave for 14 days.

strain slowly and carefully into a fermentation jar
and make sure bottom sediment is not disturbed,
you may use a drain pipe for this step.

when fermentation ceases, strain again and bottle.
keep for at least six months before drinking

heather whiskey or whisky?

Sorry, I think I would be in trouble if I give this recipe, but if you read my story poem there are some clues there.

Another tip I can share is that country folks used to collect up the charcoal from heather moorland fires to use for their whisky making as its charcoal give a lot of heat without smoke. Very useful as this enabled then to make "unregistered" whisky in broad daylight :-)

In old whisky making days, the wooden containers used for fermentation, known as ‘washbacks’ were always cleaned out for re-use with heather besoms, brooms.

When new stills were installed, heather and water would be boiled in them first to "sweeten up" the still, they would say, before it went into production service.

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