Porridge with a splash of Laphroaig. Photo: Alex Blackwood.

Metro Recommends: Whisky Porridge

It might sound odd, but adding whisky to your porridge results in a sweet, heady, humble luxury that your Scottish grandparents would have had back in their day. 

When my dad and his brother were little their dad (my grandad) was partial to a tablespoon of Glenfiddich whisky on salted porridge with cream and brown sugar. He said it was a small celebration of his Scottish heritage. Grandad relished it so much that when dad and his brother were 8 or 9, were allowed to have it too as a special breakfast while on holiday.

There have been bagpipes at all our family's weddings, my small, ginger brother owns a kilt and my last name is glaringly Scottish. But since that age of innocence, my father has wondered if perhaps the whisky for breakfast thing wasn’t so much a Scottish thing as much as my grandad's cheeky excuse to have a drink in the morning. However, I can assure my father (and any other sceptics) that it's a real thing – friends have reported that their Scottish grandparents did the same. Having tasted it and found the resulting dish to be far more than the sum of its parts my friends and I carted a bag of oats, a bottle of whisky, some milk powder and brown sugar all over Stewart Island on a week-long tramp.

Whisky porridge being made on a gas burner at North Arm campsite in Stewart Island. Photo: Alex Blackwood.

Oats on their own are admittedly uninspiring: beige, lumpy and soft with little texture. But with dark brown sugar, they take on a sweet, nutty, malty, molasses-rich taste and a slightly grainy touch of crunch. Float the oats in milk, or even better, cream. Then add just a tablespoon (or two, I’m not your mum) of the whisky of your choice. I usually choose a strong, peaty one – usually Laphroaig, but go for your personal favourite whisky to maximise your enjoyment.

With that, you have a warm, heady, and in a humble way, luxurious breakfast – far from the uninspiring oats you had before you prior. One friend of mine even makes the addition of toasted oats sprinkled on top for crunch (and I guess you could opt for chopped almonds or walnuts if you wanted to get a bit crazy).

It’s a combo that makes sense. Scotland has been the biggest producer of whisky in the world for longer than 100 years and oats have been the main crop of Scotland since time immemorial.

READ MORE: How to drink whiskey: A guide for beginners

I’m not suggesting you try this on a work morning, but when you’re heating up your breakfast on a wood fire stove in a hut in the bush, the whisky adds a touch of luxury, warmth and complexity of flavour that works wonders. If you aren’t inclined to spend time in nature, a warm bowl of whisky porridge can hold it’s own against French toast as a Sunday morning brekkie in your cold Mount Eden flat.

It’s heartening, simple and to be honest, nostalgic; there are few nuggets of Scottish culture around for Kiwis with a Scottish heritage, and this is a nice one.  

And, if you are judging me for putting liquor in my breakfast but you’ve been to a boozy bottomless brunch, you can have that judgement right back. Besides, it’s traditional.

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