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Atholl Brose

How to make atholl brose with this oatmeal and honey recipe for the Scottish whisky liqueur drink

It is not known for how long Scottish folk have been drinking Atholl Brose liqueur but the earliest recorded recipe dates back to 1475. Prior to this Atholl Brose recipes were handed down from generation to generation as each person was taught to make this delicious whisky liquer drink.

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    The drink is so sweet and tasty that legend has it that it led to the capture of renegade Iain MacDonald the Lord of the Isles who was leading a rebellion against the King. He was caught supping at a well that had been filled with whisky, oatmeal and honey at the order of the Earl of Atholl who knew that MacDonald drank regularly from the small well. The Duke’s drink was the downfall of Iain MacDonald who stayed to enjoy it and was captured by this cunning trap. Since then it has been enjoyed by many a Scot since.

    Other stories of its origins give the name of the Lord as Lord John who was the last Lord of the Isles and was under sentence of death but had escaped and fled to the hills. It is said it was he who could not resist the drink at the well and stayed drinking it rather than fleeing the Earls of Atholl and Crawford.

    It can be drunk on its own and can also be enjoyed with various other drinks and accompaniments such as with crushed ice, with mixers like coca cola, soda, ginger beer, lemonade or with cream floated on top.

    The recipe for Atholl Brose below can be drunk straight away but it does taste better when left to mature for a week.

    It is often made specially at Hogmanay and makes a welcome drink and dessert treat. It is very sweet so should only be served in small drams to see in the New Year.

    Atholl Brose Recipe

    This easy to make Atholl Brose recipe can be made in a few minutes and can be made on the day it is to be drunk but tastes much better if stored for a week.

    How To Make Atholl Brose


    One bottle of Scotch whisky
    10 fluid ounces (Half Pint) of double cream
    450g of clear Scottish honey
    The whites of six large eggs
    One handful of fine ground oatmeal


    1. Soak the oatmeal with the Scotch whisky and set aside.

    2. Beat the egg whites until they become stiff.

    3. Fold the cream into the egg white mixture.

    4. Add the honey.

    5. Blend in the whisky and oatmeal mixture at a slow but steady pace.

    6. Pour the liquid into some bottles and set aside for one week. Shake each bottle of Atholl Brose each day.

    Athole Brose

    It is sometimes spelt as Athole Brose. For example in the Maw Broon's Cookbook by the Sunday Post there is an Atholl Brose recipe in the inside front cover. This is spelt as Athole Brose. This differs slightly from the one above and suggests adding Scottish raspberries. The Athole Brose recipe was originally sourced from Housewife Weekly as part of their cut out and keep Scottish Recipes number 8.

    It is also spelt this way in the book The Scots Kitchen by F. Marian McNeill. Hers uses heather honey, whisky and cold water as the only ingredients and cites a reference to it in The Heart of Midlothian by Sir Walter Scott. The Scots Kitchen has a brief history which includes its use as a cure for the cold and that sometimes a beaten egg yolk is added to the mixture. It also describes how two subalterns and a piper carry Athole Brose into the sergeants mess of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders on Hogmanay where it is served in a quaich to each officer and sergeant.

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    It is possible to buy Atholl Brose in bottles from whisky liqueur sellers and off licences. Most distillers use single malt whisky to give a richer tasting liqueur. Others have secret recipes and use secret herbs to give unique flavours.

    The book Scots Cooking: The Best Traditional and Contemporary Scottish Recipes by Sue Lawrence has a recipe for Atholl Brose pudding for those who do not like to drink.

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