Bourbon v. Scotch
August 28, 2005 9:43 AM   Subscribe

RecipeFilter: I don't drink, but am preparing a recipe that calls for Bourbon (New Orleans bread pudding w/ bourbon sauce). My question is whether or not it will make much difference if I use Scotch instead. We keep a bottle for entertaining, and I'd prefer to use what I've got instead of running to the store to buy another whole bottle of liquor...
posted by richmondparker to Food & Drink (13 answers total)
Tricky. Corn whiskeys and malt whiskies are pretty different beasts. If it's a lighter scotch, you could probably get away with it by adding more sugar (or even a dash of corn syrup, for once). Have a sniff: if you detect sweetness (caramel, toffee) then you should be okay to wing it. If it's more medicinal and smoky in character, then grab a mini-bottle or two of bourbon: they're behind the counter of yer local liquor store for a couple of bucks a piece. (Though it'll be closed on a Sunday, grr.)
posted by holgate at 9:54 AM on August 28, 2005

I'd substitute rum in a dessert like that before trying scotch. Or brandy. Or perhaps even red wine.
posted by judith at 10:13 AM on August 28, 2005

I'd avoid scotch, especially as the stronger malts -- i.e. Lagavulin, Scapa -- could impart an unwelcome taste to your food.

Can you not buy little "airplane" bottles at your local booze can? This is how I usually buy the trivial amounts of odd liquors I need for baking/cooking.
posted by docgonzo at 10:19 AM on August 28, 2005

I wouldn't recommend substitution of scotch for bourbon, unless you're making a red-meat dish (which I see you're not).

Scotch Whisky (no e) is malted with Peat smoke, which adds a very strong and unique flavour to the resulting product. Even the Lowlands scotches are pretty obviously different from any Bourbon I've ever tasted. More creosote bite and less wood flavour, in my opinion. Not really what I'd call a dessert taste.

According to many Cocktail guides, the usual substitution for Bourbon is Rye Whiskey (like Canadian Rye) because it's a sweet, single grain liquor, like bourbon. This is probably the direction you want to go if your using it in a dessert sauce.

As a Canadian, of course, I much prefer Rye to Bourbon, especially in a Manhattan. :)
posted by Crosius at 10:19 AM on August 28, 2005

Yeech, I can't imagine scotch sauce on bread pudding. They're very different tastes, even (especially?) when cooked. Definitely just buy a few of those little bottles - figure out how much you need before going to the store to save you a trip.
posted by fionab at 10:22 AM on August 28, 2005

Since it's scotch that you keep for entertaining, it is probably pretty good scotch. So, the taste profile will be very strong in the typical scotch characteristics (all listed above). Definitely not something you want to put into a dessert.

Go for the bourbon, you can always find recipes that call for it (especially barbeque marinades).
posted by oddman at 11:00 AM on August 28, 2005

...and bourbon chicken...mmmm.
posted by mmascolino at 11:16 AM on August 28, 2005

Mind you, most blended whiskies (being the very great majority drunk as a mixer) have a good whack of grain whisky in them, so they're pretty sweet, and might do in a pinch.

It's fairly safe to say that if you have to ask, it's probably okay. If it was a fine single malt you had there, you'd know not to cook with it. If it's someone else's bottle of whisky, ask them first, or bad things could come your way ...
posted by scruss at 11:21 AM on August 28, 2005

I've certainly made desserts with cheap blended whisky, but do not use a single malt for this purpose! If it's just a blend then try the whisky and see if you like the taste, if you like the taste then go for it.
posted by Flitcraft at 12:00 PM on August 28, 2005

Do not use Scotch. It's smokey flavor will likely ruin the flavor of your sauce. The rum and brandy suggestions seem right. You are looking for a flavor that will meld with sugar, and these seem the best.
posted by caddis at 6:28 PM on August 28, 2005

D***, make that "Its".

Time to go flagellate myself.
posted by caddis at 6:40 PM on August 28, 2005

Buy a 250ml bottle of bourbon. You can also add it to pecan pie. Yummy!
posted by phewbertie at 5:37 AM on August 29, 2005

Third the suggestion to look for little bottles. (They may keep them in a special case in the liquor store. If you don't see them, ask a manager.)
posted by desuetude at 6:26 AM on August 29, 2005

« Older Are weekends a good idea?   |   How do I volunteer for hurricane cleanup? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.