Burns Night: Excuses to open a bottle

January 22, 2016

What started in 18th century Ayshire, Scotland has grown to an annual celebration of Robert Burns’ life and works, celebrated by people with love for Scotch all over the world. A proper Burns Night involves several ceremonies throughout the night, and a Burns poem is recited with a toast for each component of the feast before the goodies are consumed.

“Instead of a song, boys, I’ll give you a toast-
Here’s the memory of those on the twelfth that we lost!-
That we lost, did I say? nay, by Heav’n, that we found;
For their fame it shall last while the world goes round.”
– Robert Burns

The birthday of beloved Scottish poet Robert “Bobby” Burns (1759 – 1796) is January 25th, and throughout the world this is a night to be drinking whisky.

It’s a lot like Passover with Scotch.

Burns Night: What to expect

While Burns Night consists of partaking in that daring Scottish delicacy known as haggis (sheep offal minced with onions, oatmeal, broth and spices and cooked in sheep’s stomach, broken open at the table), it also involves sharing a few drams of fine whisky. This is often seen as an opportunity to open a bottle that’s been saved and share it with those who would appreciate it. If you’re skipping all the Auld Lang Syne-gans on the 25th, it’s still a fine excuse to order a good dram at a bar or sip something precious from your home stash.

Burns Night can be a lot of pressure for collectors. Eenie meenie miny moe – which bottle to choose? Well now, that fine dram isn’t going to drink itself! Isn’t the whole point of loving whisky, you know, to enjoy it?

A few suggestions…

Start with a good blend or a tried and true single malt to awaken the palate:
Compass Box Great King Street
Johnnie Walker Double Black
Highland Park 12 Year
Glenrothes Select Reserve
Glenfiddich 12 Year

For the middle of the evening, with food:
Glenlivet Nadurra 16 Year
Benromach Cask Strength
Auchentoshan Valinch 2012
Balvenie Single Barrel 12 Year

Speaking of food, try these whiskies with oysters or smoked salmon:
Talisker Storm
Bowmore 18 Year
Ardbeg Uigeadail
Lagavulin 16 Year
Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014

The day you open these, THAT becomes the special occasion –
Highland Park 18 Year
Glenfarclas 25 Year
Cragganmore 21 Year
Macallan Fine Oak 25 Year
Glenmorangie Signet
Dalmore King Alexander

It’s also a perfect time to crack open that rare independent bottling from that ghost distillery.

Burns Night is really up to your own interpretation. You can go big or stay home. But however you celebrate, don’t forget to toast the lasses!

“Auld Nature swears the lovely dears
Her noblest work she classes;
Her ‘prentice han’ she tried on man,
And then She made the lasses!”


There’s so much scotch left to discover!

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