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Stories and Stovies
Hamely Fair - Beverages

From: To Clarinda, Robert Burns

Fair Empress of the Poet’s soul;
And Queen of Poetesses;
Clarinda, take this little boon,
This humble pair of glasses;…

Long may be live! Long may we love!
And long we may we be happy!
And may we never want a glass
Well charg’d with generous nappy!

A Taste of Scotland's Athol Brose

Famous since 1475, named after the then Duke of Atholl who captured his great enemy, the Earl of Ross, by filling the well at which Ross was known to drink with this potent libation. Ross drank deeply of this magical liquor and was taken. This recipe was given by the 8th Duke of Atholl.

3 heaped tablespoon oatmeal
2 tablespoon liquid heather honey
whisky to make up 1 qt
1 pt water (approx.)

Put the oatmeal into a bowl and mix with the water until it is a thick paste. Let it stand for about 1/2 hour then put it through a fine strainer, pressing down well with a spoon so that the oatmeal is quite dry. Throw away the meal, and mix the liquid with the run honey and stir with a silver spoon until well blended. Pour into a quart bottle and fill up with whisky. Cork well, and always shake before using.

And, for all you drinking people, they say that a pleasant dessert can be made by pouring 4 tablespoons of Atholl Brose into tall glasses, topping up with whipped cream. Serve it chilled, the top sprinkled with fine, lightly toasted oatmeal which gives a nutty flavour.


This is a drink I always associate with special occasions in Scotland. I remember my mother on Hogmany "taking a wee nip" to "see in the New Year." Drambuie seems so romantic to me: the recipe for it is said to be secret, but I do know it's whisky based.

Drambuie is associated with Bonnie Prince Charley, said to be his favorite drink, I believe. And who, with an ounce of good Scottish blood in their veins, can't feel their heart sing and cry at the same time for that poor, doomed Prince and the many who died at Culloden Moor, and at Killiecrankie, and all over Scotland to keep her free and oppressor's yolk off our land, our history, our songs, our poetry, and our children's heritage? And if I were in Scotland and had my voting rights, you can be quite sure my vote would be Scottish Nationalist.

And, I may as well admit in the interests of the accuracy of this book of Stories and Stovies, that I looked forward to Hogmanay, too. From the time I was about 11 or 12, I think, my Granny would allow me to have a "miniature" - a wee dram, one of those little bottles of alcohol - so I could "see in the New Year" too.

And I will admit to, even in my early adult years, enjoying the "wee nip" just to relive a memory. But, back to my Hogmanay treat - I remember once doing something stupid like picking Cherry Brandy, or something equally gutless. The majority of years I picked good Scotch whisky, preferably in a miniature dimple bottle, and drinking it the way God intended - without water, without ice, and definitely without a soft drink.

Robert Burns

I know there are many, many, far better likenesses of our national poet, Robert Burns. But this one is special to me because it’s the label I was given when, one year, my mother and I took a day bus trip, probably Watson’s, to Ayr.

We went to Burns Cottage and the Auld Brig o’ Doon (and, yes, "Brigadoon" is one of my favourite musicals) and that trip was a highlight to me. I used, and still have, this wonderful collection of Burns’ work all the years I continued to go to elocution.

My grandmother had a few tattered remnants of a Kilmarnock edition of Burns that her Granny had. I don’t know if it was one of the rare editions or not. It didn’t matter as I was growing up. Those pages and a faded remnant of what my granny said was "an original Paisley plaid" were symbols of family pride that my granny taught me to treasure, simply because they were her granny’s. Yes, it would be nice to have these special symbols today. I didn’t ask my Granny for them when I left Scotland because I knew they were special to her. The items belonged to her. But she gave me the memories to keep.

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