Irish Language Blog

‘Tis the Season for … Festive Drinks (‘Deochanna Féiltiúla’ in Irish) like ‘Mulled Wine’ or ‘Hot Buttered Rum’ Posted by on Nov 23, 2018 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Scailtín Fíona — Deoch fhéiltiúil don séasúr:, Angela Huster [CC0], from Wikimedia Commons, CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication, Mulled wine, Glühwein-Zutaten im Kochtopf Glühwein-Gewürze Orangen-Scheiben Zimt-Stangen Kardamom-Kapseln Sternanis Nelken-Gewürz; lipéad Gaeilge le Róislín, 2018

‘Tis the season to be festive (féiltiúil) and one of the special treats that may be served at this time of year is mulled wine (scailtín fíona).  An maith leat é?  Agus an ndearna tú riamh é?  Let’s take a closer look at the name of the drink.  We’ll start with “fíon” (wine), then look at “scailtín,” and conclude with some thoughts for hot buttered rum.  Here are some of the forms of “fíon“:

an fíon, the wine

fíona, of wine

an fhíona, of the wine

na fíonta, the wines

fíonta, of wines

na bhfíonta, of the wines

We use “fíona” in the phrase “scailtín fíona” because we’re literally saying “hot drink/scalteen of wine.”

Scailtín can be used for a few other hot alcoholic drinks.  It can be anglicized as “scalteen.” The other hot drinks include:

scailtín fuisce, scailtín uisce beatha, both meaning “hot whiskey” traditionally including hot milk

scailtín pórtfhíona, mulled port wine — note the “fada” over the “o” in “pórtfhíon,” distinguishing it from “port,” a harbor, or “port,” a tune!

Scailtín” itself an easy word to work with because it has only one ending and no changes at the beginning; here are its forms:

an scailtín, the scalteen

an scailtín, of the scalteen (blas an scailtín)

na scailtíní, the scalteens

na scailtíní, of the scalteens (blas na scailtíní)

Scailtín´ can also be spelled “scaillín” although “scailtín” seems to be the most common spelling today.

How many other hot alcoholic drinks are there?  I can’t think of that many, but there is, of course, hot buttered rum.  I haven’t been able to find any attested version of this in Irish, but it’s interesting to speculate what it might be.  An bhfuil an frása ag duine ar bith?  I assume it would be a combination of “rum” (the same in Irish as in English) + “te” (warm, hot) + some form of “im” (butter).

What form of “im“?  Bhuel, sometimes  “faoi im” (lit. “under butter”) is used for the sense of something having a layer of butter, but with hot buttered rum, the butter melts into the hot rum, so it’s not really a layer as such, is it?  Another possibility for “buttered” is “a bhfuil im air” (that there is butter is on it), but again the butter isn’t really “on” the hot rum, but mixed “in” with it.  So “in it” instead of “on it,” perhaps — “rum te a bhfuil im ann“? (hot rum that has butter in it”)?  Or, since buttered toast is “tósta le him” maybe we could say “rum te le him leáite” (Hot rum with melted butter)?  Barúil eile ag duine ar bith?  The “h,” btw, creeps in (giving us “him,” not “im“) because we have “le” followed by a word starting with a vowel, so we have “le him,” not simply “le + im.”  Similarly we have “le hÚna” or “le huisce.”

How about “rum butter” — does that phrase give us any ideas for “buttered rum”?  “Rum butter” itself is straightforward enough — “im rum.”  But would one end up saying “rum te le him rum“?  That sounds like you could set it to music (perhaps shades of sean-nós singer Joe Heaney’s “Did the rum do, Dad?”).  Ar aon chaoi, the recipes I’ve glanced at for “hot buttered rum” call for regular butter, not rum butter.   Of course, the “im rum” might be quite nice served on tósta or craicir (that’s ‘crackers’ in the food sense, not the party favor sense!) and washed down with “rum te le him leáite.”  Bhuel, it’s all “ábhar machnaimh” (food for thought, but literally “a topic for thought”).  Or should I say “ábhar leachtach machnaimh” (liquid food for thought)!

Anyway, all of these beverages sound quite “blasta” (tasty) to me — not a rum do at all, at all.  Not that that use of “rum” has anything to do with our other “rumanna” (like Bacardi, Sunset Captain Bligh, Cruzan Estate Dark, Maui Dark, or Lamb’s Navy).  On that note,  SGF agus sláinte! – Róislín

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