Making Blackberry Whisky at home is so easy… And whether you are a whisky drinker or not, this is one tipple you’ll love. In this post, I share the secrets of infusing blackberries to make the finest of bramble liqueurs.
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Why you should try Blackberry Whisky (whether you like whisky or not…)
Making Blackberry Whisky was not something I had ever considered. But 2020, was a particularly great year for blackberries. And having foraged the countryside, we had so many at GFHQ, that we were struggling to use them all.
…In steps our lovely Instagram community… When I posted a photo of a small part of our blackberry haul, asking for suggestions, the response that caught my eye was to make ‘Blackberry Whiskey’. And I did!
It was a brave move, as I am really not a lover of Whisky. But this homemade bramble liqueur is delightful. A subtle infusion of Autumnal berries with Scotch Whisky, the aroma is fruity and the flavours deep. While the earthiness of the whisky remains present, a sip on the palate is rich with the tang of sweetened blackberry and is quite divine. A little like sloe gin, but better.
So, put any doubts aside… This Autumn head out to the hedgerows, bag yourself some berries and make this most surprising of treats. And with Christmas ahead… You’ll have time to share your spoils as lovely foodie gifts too.
Blackberry Whisky or Blackberry Whiskey?
I confess… When I started writing this post, I had a little panic over the spelling of ‘whisky’. Or is that ‘whiskey’? But according to Grammarly, both are in fact acceptable (although dependent on the source of the spirit being used). It states…
“Whisky (no e) refers to Scottish, Canadian, or Japanese grain spirits.
Whiskey (with an e) refers to grain spirits distilled in Ireland and the United States.”
So… Dependent on where your base-tipple has originated, either is possible. Mine was Scotch, so the recipe I share here is for Blackberry Whisky.
Is Whisky Gluten Free?
Inhabiting Facebook support groups for people who are Coeliac (Celiac), I am acutely aware that not everyone feels happy about the gluten free status of whisky (or whiskey)… Why? Because it is made from malted barley and cereals including wheat. And both barley and wheat are poison to Coeliac sufferers as they contain gluten.
So, is it safe for Coeliacs to drink Whisky?
Yes! According to Coeliac UK, all spirits (including malt whisky) are gluten free, because the distillation process removes any and all traces of gluten. And that means that Blackberry Whisky is safe to be enjoyed by people with Coeliac (Celiac) Disease too.
Using foraged blackberries to make a bramble liqueur
If you have never foraged for blackberries before, it’s the perfect distraction for an Autumn walk in the countryside. Found in hedgerows at the edge of fields and roadsides, they usually start to ripen ready for picking from around Early August in the UK (if the summer has been warm). But depending on where you are in the world (they do need a temperate climate), you will know your geographical harvest time.
There are a few rules and considerations for blackberry picking however… To ensure you get the cleanest and best available. But, I have written previously a whole list of tips and advice for both picking and washing foraged blackberries, so head over to my previous post to grab all the advice you need to prepare your fruit for Blackberry Whisky.
What do I need to make Bramble Whisky at home?
Making blackberry whisky at home is really easy, but does require a couple of bits to be ready before you start…
The whisky used to make Bramble Whisky is the cheapest you can find. Seriously. You do NOT want to waste good whisky on this one. The cheaper the better. It’s going to be sweetened and infused. So, unless you want to be consigned a place in hell, don’t adulterate the good stuff.
Preserve jar(s) for infusion
When you first mix the ingredients for Blackberry Whisky, it will need to be done in a large (wide-topped) jar that can be stirred, sealed and left. I make mine in 1 litre, screw-top Mason Jars. If making as gifts (as well as to drink at home), you are likely to need more than one.
A bottle to strain the Blackberry Whisky when ready
Once the whisky is ready to strain (2 to 3 months), a suitable, sealable glass bottle is required. It is fine to save, wash and reuse old spirit bottles for the purpose. But if giving as gifts, it is nice to use a special bottle.
- Kitchen Scales – For initial weighing of ingredients.
- Muddler – For squishing the berries a little into the whisky and mixing in the sugar. I just use a combination of fork and the end of a rolling pin.
- A cool, dark place – To allow the blackberry whisky to sit and infuse.
- Fine mesh sieve or muslin – For filtering out the berries and ‘bits’ when infusion is complete.
- A funnel – To easily transfer the fruited whisky to the final bottle.
How long should I leave the blackberries to infuse?
The strength and fruitiness of Bramble Whisky is very much dependent on the length of time the blackberries are left to infuse and how much you ‘muddle’ them. While it is a matter of personal taste, they should always be left for a minimum of four weeks and preferably for much, much longer. I leave mine (well-muddled) for about eight to twelve weeks for good, strong, fruity notes and a beautiful purple hue.
But knowing when the whisky is infused enough is simply a case of occasional tasting with a teaspoon until happy.
How long should Blackberry Whisky be left to mature?
Of course, infusing the berries and sugar is only half of the process towards optimum maturation. Blackberry Whisky needs time to reach perfection.
After infusing and then filtering the fruit, the (now purple) spirit should be either returned to the jar or decanted into bottles and left… This is actually when the magic really happens. The longer you can leave the Blackberry Whisky to mature (preferably in a cool dark place), the better. The more months that pass (with a minimum of 4 to 6 months recommended), the smoother and more amazing the whisky will be. I’m currently drinking a bottle that is a year since foraging and first mixing and it is absolutely incredible.
What to make with whisky-soaked blackberries
When the berries are filtered from the whisky, do NOT throw them away. They are a ‘superfluous’ treat that can be savoured and enjoyed. After all, what’s not to love about boozy, sweetened fruit?
But what to do with them?
- Save in a jar in the fridge, to drop into the whisky glass when you enjoy your matured tipple.
- Freeze in an airtight container or bag ready to use at a later date.
- Spoon on top of a bowl of vanilla ice cream for a fruity-boozy treat.
- Use to make Blackberry Ice Cream in place of standard blackberries
- Make into a Blackberry Coulis to drizzle over Dessert Yorkshires or Blackberry Cheesecake.
- Add to apples for a perfectly seasonal crumble.
- Or… serve as a topping for ‘gamey’ meats such as duck, venison or pheasant.
What can I mix with Blackberry Whisky?
Blackberry Whisky tastes amazing ‘straight’ at room temperature. The slight warmth allows the depth of the sweet boozy berries to shine and coat the palate.
It is also amazing ‘on the rocks’ too… Simply add some ice to a glass and pour the whisky over.
But by far my favourite way to enjoy this delightful homemade tipple is with ice and a splash of lemonade… Mix in a jug and share at a summer garden party or barbeque for a super-refreshing drink. You can even add some fresh or frozen blackberries, blueberries, raspberries or even a sprig or two of rosemary or mint for extra interest.
If you know of any other great pairings, let me know… I’m thinking a dribble of ginger ale would work fabulously!
Will you try making Blackberry Whisky?
I really hope you enjoy my Bramble Whisky. If you do make it, please let me know… Leave a comment or tag me on social media with tales of fruity enjoyment. (Find me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter).
And for all those who are gluten free, don’t forget that at Gluten Free Alchemist, we have over 400 recipes shared to the community with our love for FREE! Simply head over to our Gluten Free Recipe Index to find your inspiration…
Other blackberry recipes at Gluten Free Alchemist
- Kitchen scales
- muddler/fork/rolling pin
- large, wide, screw-top Mason jar
- fine sieve/muslin
- glass sealable liqueur bottle
- 400 g fresh/frozen blackberries thoroughly washed
- 200 g golden caster sugar
- 500 ml cheap whisky the cheapest you can find
Mixing the Blackberry Whisky
- Weigh all the ingredients into a large, wide, screw-top Mason jar.
- 'Muddle' and stir the berries into the whisky by squishing a little with the end of a rolling pin and/or fork.
- Seal the jar with the lid and shake well.
- Place the jar in a cool, dark place.
- Shake the jar every 2 to 3 days for the first 3 weeks.
- Leave the whisky in the cool, dark place to infuse for a further 1 to 9 weeks, shaking and tasting occasionally with a teaspoon, until happy that it has infused enough.
- When ready, strain the mixture by pouring through a fine mesh sieve/muslin into a jug. This should remove all the berries and 'bits'.
- Save the whisky infused berries to use in baking/cooking/in drinks.
- Transfer the strained Blackberry Whisky into glass liqueur bottles using a funnel.
- Although the whisky can be drunk at any time from this point forward, it is at its best when it has been left to mature.
- Leave the bottled whisky to mature in a cool, dark place for a further 4 to 6 months (for preference), before drinking.
- Enjoy straight, over ice or with a dash of lemonade.
© 2019-2021 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist