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As the days grow shorter, the elements harsher, and the layers thicker, people are more prone to the winter blues. Don’t let a little bit of cold get you down. After all, it is the simple things in life that make everything okay in the end. From a welcome shot of whisky and a hot toddy, to a velvety hot chocolate, and a nice cup of Joe, wrap your hands around the best beverages to warm you up this winter in Scotland.
The Scots jump on every excuse to add a touch of whisky to anything. With this in mind, consider the hot toddy the perfect beverage to ignite a fire within and warm the soul. A genius invention, hot toddy is a glorious concoction of whisky (sometimes rum or brandy), honey, and water. Recipes vary across households and are dependent on preference. Some opt for herbs and spices, while others substitute honey for sugar. The moment this piping hot elixir touches the tongue, the mind is infused with images of tartan, moors, and glens.
An obvious contender for the best Scottish beverage, whisky is the perfect drinking companion — it listens to all your woes, adds a spring to your step, and makes all your cares diminish into thin air. Those with a hankering for this Scottish tipple don’t need to look far — Scotland is riddled with the stuff. Choose your poison from any of the whisky regions and embrace the harsher elements with this secret weapon.
When served wonderfully warm and overflowing with marshmallows, a large mug of hot chocolate has the capability of making anyone’s day. Whether on a country walk in the Highlands, during a pit stop after touring Edinburgh, or post-hike in the middle of nowhere, you can be certain that hot chocolate is a much-loved Scottish staple during winter. Those on a mission to source the best kind should venture to Balnakeil and delight in Cocoa Mountain, home to arguably the best hot chocolate in Scotland. The Chocolate Tree in Edinburgh is another worthy contender.
As December approaches, along with the mistletoe and tacky knitwear, it seems as though every nook and cranny in Scotland is inundated with a myriad of mulled wine. The aroma of the citrus fruits and mulling spices fused with the sumptuous taste of the red wine — and topped off with the occasional raisin — is a tipple worthy of unwavering praise. Warm and soothing, this punch can be deceivingly potent.
Coffee is a dream of a drink. Whether waking up or putting that head on the pillow, a classic cup of Joe never disappoints. From lattes and flat whites to cappuccinos and espressos, choose your caffeine injection at any of the local coffee spots around Scotland. The Scots drink it like water, so finding some good-quality artisanal roasts should not be a problem.
Whisky may be a liquid embodiment of Scotland, however, gin is quickly becoming a worthy contender. From the glorified botanicals found within The Botanist from the Isle of Islay and the flavourful rose and cucumber in Hendricks, to the punchy kick in Edinburgh Gin, the land is overflowing with barrels of gin. Although served as is, the mind and body will feel significantly warmer after a well-deserved glass or two.
It may sound self-explanatory, but a good cup of tea can say a lot about a person or a dining establishment. The Scots are forever boiling the kettle and welcoming surprise ‘pop-ins’ and visits from guests. It could be argued that the fine quality of tea is in actual fact the primary lure for visitors, with the banter coming second. Those that live for tea should invest in Fortnum & Mason’s Dalreoch White — a fresh, light, classic white tea bursting with hints of nut and honey. Although pretty pricey, this blend adds that perfect touch of Scottish warmth on a cold winters day.
Graced with bubbling carbonation and infused with resplendent orange hues, it may not be warm but that doesn’t matter to the Scots. Irn-Bru or ‘Scotland’s other national drink next to whisky’ has been the Scottish go-to fizzy drink since 1901. Often used as a mixer, Irn-Bru blends well with whisky or vodka. Perhaps the only place that Coke comes second in the ‘most-drunk’ category, Irn-Bru is a drink praised and loved across Scotland. It really is no surprise that Sir Sean Connery chose a crate of it to be exhibited at The National Museum Of Scotland in Edinburgh.