Robert Burns (1759-1796), is Scotland’s National Bard. He was a poet and lyricist who wrote in both Scottish and English, and remains to this day a Scottish cultural icon and a bedrock of Scotland’s national identity. Among his many compositions are Auld Lange Syne, A Red, Red Rose, Tam O’ Shanter and, of course, Address to a Haggis.
Five years after his death, a group of his devoted friends gathered together to celebrate his life and work. The tradition caught on and came to be celebrated on or around his birthday of January 25. That date, often referred to as Robert Burns Day, has become Scotland’s unofficial National Day. In fact, it’s more widely celebrated in Scotland than the official national observance of St Andrew’s Day.
At the heart of the celebration is the Burn’s Supper or Burns Night—a traditional Scottish dinner typically accompanied by numerous drams of Scotland’s whisky.
The traditional Burns Supper begins with a soup course. This is usually a classic Scottish soup like Scotch broth, potato soup, Cullen skink (a thick Scottish soup made of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions) or cock-a-leekie (a soup dish consisting of leeks and peppered chicken stock).
Two leading whisky experts have teamed up to launch #OurWhisky – a new movement designed to challenge perceptions of the stereotypical whisky drinker.
Becky Paskin, editor of Scotchwhisky.com and Georgie Bell, global whisky specialist, say this will be the world’s first campaign to unite the global whisky industry and whisky lovers in a combined bid to “dispel common myths of who modern whisky drinkers are”.
Whisky is a drink that can be enjoyed by everyone, and we feel it’s important to demonstrate that by celebrating the gender and cultural diversity of the modern day whisky drinker.”
The pair want #OurWhisky to reaffirm the consensus from within the industry that whisky is a drink with widespread appeal, and challenge the established perception among many consumers that whisky is still a “man’s drink” – an opinion they say has been perpetuated by decades of male-oriented advertising [ . . . ]
Falling dangerously close to an otherwise successful completion of a “dry January”, Burns night, makes for an appropriate occasion to fall off any rickety wagon.
Falling dangerously close to an otherwise successful completion of a “dry January”, Burns night, makes for an appropriate occasion to fall off any rickety wagon. Certainly, the celebrated 18th-century poet Robert “Rabbie” Burns, a hedonist of heroic proportions, would’ve sneered at suggestions his birthday, 25 January, be a tee-total affair.
Burns was a huge fan of whisky, despite eventually turning his hand to tax collection as an excise man, and the spirit subverted plenty of stanzas, with poems devoted to his favourite whisky, his preferred pub, while even lambasting the English for raising whisky duty.
To toast this legend of both liquor and literature, I’ve selected a collection that might have been close to his heart – quite a challenge since so many distilleries emerged after his death, when the English finally relaxed the duty.
As it happens, historians have suggested some of the drams Burns downed were less discerning, while he also sank an irresponsible dose of the stuff. So rather than go like for like, I’ve opted for some tenuous themes and advocate drinking less but better whisky.
In his Jolly Beggar poem Burns mentions a lowland whisky from the Kilbagie distillery, in Kincardine, which by all accounts would’ve been eye-watering gear.
Glenkinchie provides you with a softer, lighter and more balanced lowland, and the Glenkinchie 2016 Special Release is one I’ve been back to a few times.
It shows how a lighter foundation of this style can be reinforced with impressive maturation, still fresh, but sweet and spicy with it. Glenkinchie 2016 Special Release, £309, Whisky Exchange
Legend has it the brilliant bard liked a smooth spirit to accompany the rough element he mixed with in the pubs, and some say he often opted for a refined highland malt.
He would’ve been satisfied with Dalmore then, not least because the distillery is so inventive with expressions.[ . . . ]