Traditional Scottish Recipe: The Hot Toddy

Cure that cold, warm yourself up or simply enjoy a delicious hot drink with this traditional Scottish recipe for a hot toddy.

Published 19th Feb 2016
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

In case you haven't noticed it's winter (that may sound like sarcasm but if you're Scottish the seasons tend to blend together) and what with the terrible weather, the constant threat of catching a cold and the long, dark nights, we could all use a little dose of comfort.

One drink, regularly enjoyed across Scotland, that offers not only a little liquid hug in a glass, but also serves as the perfect antidote to a cold, is the traditional Scottish hot toddy.

Though we aren't exactly sure where the name came from drinks expert Ross Dennis at Dewar's Aberfeldy Distillery believes that the hot toddy's name comes from a special well, he said: "The first mention of what we now think of as a hot toddy comes about in the 1780s. We think the name hot toddy comes from the Todian Well . an ancient water source in Edinburgh.

"In the 18th century, it would have been a very common thing to mix whiskeys with other ingredients to make it more palatable. They didn't have the same cask management that we have today."

Here we provide an easy - and delicious - recipe to make a classic Scottish hot toddy (with a slight flourish) for you to try out in the comfort of your own home.


• 35ml of blended Scotch whisky (we prefer using a non-peated premium blend but peated whisky works just as well and gives the drink an entirely different taste, so it can be fun to try)

• 1 tbsp Honey

• 100ml - 200ml of boiling water

• cloves

• One lemon

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• Sugar


• a stick of cinnamon

• star anise

• a handled glass (as shown in main picture)

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Should you not be a fan of whisky, then substitute in a spirit of your choice such as Scottish gin or even rum for a deliciously different take. 

Cut the lemon in half then cut a 1/2 inch slice from one of the halves, put to one side.

2 Dust a plate with a thin coat of sugar, then rim the glass you intend to use with one of the halves of lemon to wet the rim with lemon juice. Then turn the glass upside down and place the rim into the sugar to dust the glass.

Pour the whisky into the glass, then add the honey.

Add the boiling water, obviously adding a larger amount will dilute the taste so we recommend 150ml, so the glass is only 3/4's full, but how much you wish to add is up to you.

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5 Add a few cloves, then squeeze the juice from one half of the lemon into the glass and stir.

6 Optional - add a stick of cinnamon or some star anise for an extra hit of flavour.

7 Cut the lemon slice in half, adding one to the glass and using the other to garnish. Alternatively 'pin' several of the cloves to one of the half slices and add the slice at step 5. 

Picture: SharonaGott\Flickr

Video Recipe:

Strangely enough we struggled to find any Scottish videos for making hot toddies but leave it to the enterprising Japanese to create this wonderful - and easy to follow - video guide for making a hot toddy:

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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