Traditional Scottish recipe: How to make Atholl Brose whisky liqueur

Create your own whisky liqueur with this traditional Scottish recipe for Atholl Brose.

Published 19th Jan 2024
Updated 19 th Jan 2024

A traditional whisky liqueur recipe, Atholl Brose is steeped in rich history and combines Scotland's love of whisky with its love for all things sweet.

Perfect as an after dinner treat, Atholl Brose is usually served during Hogmanay and Burns Night celebrations.

There are many stories of how Atholl Brose came to be, though one of the original tales is that of Dougal and the Giant of Atholl.

A long time ago, a great giant was said to terrorise the land of Atholl (what is now the upper parts of Perthshire). The giant - creatures that were apparently a common problem in those days - had nothing but contempt for humans and would often steal cattle.

Worse, he would empty any grain stores he found, filling his great sack and leaving entire communities to struggle to survive through winter.

Fed up with the constant predations of this bothersome giant, Dougal, a young hunter from one of the many clachans surrounding the giant's glen, hatched a daring plot to rid the lands of this nuisance.
Dougal was smart enough to know that to fight the creature head on would be foolish, as many had tried and their bodies were by now scattered across the glens.

Instead, Dougal sneaked down to where the giant kept his ill-gotten gains, finding there sacks of oats, jars of honey and incredibly, several small casks of whisky.  It was then he began to formulate a plan.

Using his knife he cut open the sack of oats, he poured them into what was clearly the giant's drinking cup (a hollowed out boulder that rested before a stone well), before adding the honey and both of the casks of whisky.
Coming across this bountiful surprise the giant drank his fill, and eventually fell asleep beneath an ancient oak tree. Seeing his chance, Dougal slipped out from his hiding place beneath the sacks of oats and slew the giant as he slept.
Dougal returned to his homestead as a hero and his recipe for the Atholl Brose was passed on from generation to generation.

The first official recipe for Atholl Brose was recorded in 1475, when Iain MacDonald, the Lord of the Isles was leading a rebellion against the king. The Earl of Atholl, who had been dispatched to capture the errant chieftan, discovered that MacDonald regularly used a well near where the rebels were said to be encamped.

The Earl ordered his scouts to stealthily fill the well with whisky, oats and honey (perhaps Atholl himself took inspiration from Dougal's story). When MacDonald and his troops stopped to use the well, the recipe was so delicious they tarried there and were captured by Atholl's troops.

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Our step by step guide shows you how to create your very own Atholl Brose:

Atholl Brose whisky liqueur


• One bottle of Scotch whisky (A decent blend will do)
• (Optional) 1/2 Pint of double cream
• 450g of clear Scottish honey
• One handful of fine ground oatmeal

Pick whichever whisky takes your fancy but a decent blend will work just as well as a good malt. We recommend that you perhaps don't use a peaty whisky as this can detract from the sweet flavour.

Atholl Brose also works well as a dessert just add raspberries and drizzle over a nice ice cream.

Step 1:

Combine the oatmeal and whisky in a shallow container. Cover with linen and leave in a cool place for several hours or overnight.

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Atholl Brose whisky liqueur

Picture: Wikimedia

Step 2:

Remove the liquids from your oatmeal and whisky mixture.

Use linen or a spoon and strainer to squeeze every last drop of whisky out of the oatmeal solids. Discard the oats.


Picture: Wikimedia

Step 3:

This step is optional, some more traditional recipes don't use cream, while others even recommend mixing the cream with egg whites.

This step can be used or left out as per your preference.

Add cream and stir.

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Picture: Wikimedia

Step 4:

Gently whisk in honey, until dissolved.


Picture: Wikimedia

Step 5:

Stir the final mixture well (according to tradition, this should be done with a silver spoon).

Pour the brose into a bottle for storage.


Picture: Wikimedia

Step 6:

Store bottle in the fridge for up to a week, Atholl Brose is at its best when given a few days to mature, howe,ver it tastes great freshly made too.

Step 7:

Serve chilled from the fridge or over ice. Enjoy!

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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