Water of Time for the Passion of the Heart

“Take a quart of white Wine, and a pint of Sack, steep in it as much broad thime as it will wet, put to it of Galingale and Calamus Aromaticus, of each one ounce, Cloves, Mace, Ginger, and grains of Paradise two drams, steep there all night, the next morning distil it in an ordinary still, drink it warm with Sugar.” -A Queen’s Delight, 1655

Water of Time for the Passion of the Heart

Our Thoughts:

Yes, that is actually the title of the recipe. Naturally, I couldn’t resist.

The base mixture, after sitting overnight, was extremely strong. Dark and murky with herb juice and spices, the jar full of thyme needed only a miniature X-wing to closely resemble Dagobah.

We tried to come up with a method of home distillation, with moderate success… Lacking any proper equipment, we rigged a double bowl system with a tent of tin foil to catch and direct the vapors. However, much of the liquid was lost by this method (we got about one serving), and fearing there wouldn’t be enough to go around, we reserved a bit of the unrefined juice for comparison.

The unrefined juice is the color of thick apple cider, with a flavor like a punch in the face. The thyme flavors are foremost and strongest, giving the mixture a very strong herbal quality that reaches all the way to the back of the throat. The spices are also present, but more understated compared to the thyme.

The pseudo-distilled version is clear, and utterly delicious. It’s so good that we immediately determined that we needed more sophisticated distilling equipment. The thyme and spices are a very delicate taste. Starts like sake, then takes on a hint of sourness which fades into a vaguely nutty sweetness, which transitions into a mildly dry finish.

Conclusion? It’s a surprisingly sophisticated beverage, and entirely unlike anything I’ve ever tried before. LOVED it. :)

Water of Time Recipe


  • 1 quart white wine (a little over one bottle)
  • 1 pint sack
  • a lot of thyme, about 3 oz., or 3 cups
  • 1 tsp. galingale
  • 1 tsp. calamus
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. mace
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. grains of paradise
  • sugar to taste
NB 1 dram = ~4grams, = ~1/4 tsp.
1 ounce = ~24 grams = 1 tsp.

14 thoughts on “Water of Time for the Passion of the Heart”

  1. Colin Fredericks says:

    “Rigged” a distillation system – Eek! I love the recipes here and want to be able to continue reading them! Home-made distilling equipment is a good way to go blind if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing. I definitely encourage you (and other readers) to get something more sophisticated and more likely to produce ethanol than methanol.

    1. Colin Fredericks says:

      I just re-read the article and realized that there’s no fermentation involved in the recipe, so the distillation is not so dangerous. You had me nervous there. :)

      1. TW says:

        Going blind from home distillation is more a myth than anything. It is actually very hard to get any sizable/dangerous amounts of methanol fermenting fruits or grains. And what methanol you may get will be distilled first, so you can just discard the first bit and be fine. The myth of going blind from moonshine was more about all the products used to cut it before market.

        What really stinks is that any distillation of alcohol (without permission of the “revenuers”) in the US is a violation of federal law…

        1. Colin Fredericks says:

          How much is “first bit?”

        2. scotchgrrl says:

          Actually, the laws about distillation of spirits vary from state to state, for example, in Illinois you can distill no more than 54 liters for personal use without a permit. Check the laws in your state to be sure.

  2. Tanya says:

    This might be a stupid question but what is sack? I googled it and got: a bag of marijuana, a canvas bag, and sack the quarterback… I’m running on the assumption you don’t mean a container because it says a pint OF sack. But again I may just be really really dumb.

    1. Needs Mead says:

      Of course not! It’s a somewhat antiquated term for dry sherry. It can still be found in some shops as “Sack” or “Dry Sack”, but you can substitute a dry sherry, too.

  3. Paul says:

    You can make a decent distillation apparatus by using a pot with a glass lid. Turn the lid upside-down, so that the steam will collect and run down the handle, and place a cup underneath the handle to collect the vapors. Works best if you put ice on top of the lid while it’s cooking.

  4. Erika says:

    Ok, now I need some ingredient clarification :) I’ve found grains of paradise, but what is “calamus”? My Google-fu brings me to believe it’s the ground rhizome of the sweet flag; is this correct? Thanks!

    1. Needs Mead says:

      Correct! We actually left it out of our brew, since we couldn’t find it, but included it in the list of directions in case anyone had better access than we did!

      1. Joe says:

        Any herbalist will have calamus on hand, and it’s a common Ayurvedic (Indian) medicinal herb. It usually comes in powdered form. Find a herbalist, and calamus should be easy enough to procure.

  5. harbqll says:

    Calamus and Grains of Paradise can both be found on Amazon. I found ground Galingale at wholespice.com.

    Good stuff, this Water of Time. Use an alembic for your distillation to really impress the girls.

    1. Needs Mead says:

      That would totally work on us… ;)

      1. harbqll says:

        Alas, I am wed. And probably twice your age.

        *But* I’d be willing to settle for an autograph in my copy of the cookbook! Amazon says it will arrive on the 30th. I could forward it to you for autographing…

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