Adjust oven rack 1/3 the way up from the bottom. Preheat oven to 325°. Butter a 10 by 4 inch tube pan (like an angel food cake pan). Line the bottom with wax or parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust all over with fine bread crumbs.
Break or cut the nuts into large pieces. They should NOT be finely chopped. Place them in the largest bowl you have.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, mace and salt. Set aside. Combine the milk and brandy or bourbon. Set aside.
In an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add the sugar and beat for a few minutes, scraping the bowl as necessary. On moderate speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly incorporated after each egg and scraping the bowl when necessary to keep everything well mixed. Increase speed and beat until light and fluffy- about 3 minutes. The batter may look curdled at this point- that's OK.
On lowest speed alternately add the sifted dry ingredients in three additions with the milk mixture in two, scraping the bowl as necessary with the spatula and beating only until smooth after each addition.
Pour the batter over the nuts. Stir with a large wooden spoon until the nuts are all coated with the batter. Turn into the prepared pan and level the top.
Bake for 1 ¾ hours or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and place the cake pan on a rack. Generously sprinkle or brush the brandy or bourbon on top of the hot cake. Let cake cool in the pan for about 20 minutes.
Cover the cake with a rack and invert to remove pan and paper. Cover with another rack and carefully invert again to cool. It's better if it sits for 24 hours before cutting.