Finding the perfect single malt for Burns Night

On the 25th of January, people all over the world will celebrate the birthday of Scottish poet Robert Burns, and while haggis, poetry and bagpipes undoubtedly have their own unique charms, we, predictably enough, are more interested in the whisky side of things.

          You would be forgiven for thinking that whisky’s role on Burns Night is commercially influenced, with distilleries keen to shoehorn their product into the fabric of the occasion. But Burns did have a well-documented love of Scotch, which can be seen in such brilliant poems as ‘John Barleycorn’ and ‘The Author’s Earnest Cry and Prayer’ (the former being a genius analogy to the barley distillation process, the latter being a lament on taxation of whisky). Clearly, if you are celebrating Burns Night properly, you need a decent bottle… and we think we can help you there.

If you’re looking for authenticity; a whisky that reflects the times Burns lived in; there are some markers to look for: single malt, high ABV, sherry cask maturation, and some peated malt in the mash bill.  In Burns’ day, all Scotch was bottled at cask strength. It was only in World War 1, when the British government were trying to reduce drunkenness among munitions workers following their lunch breaks, that the ABV was reduced to 40%. Today, cask strength whisky is still bottled, but unfortunately, it’s usually at much more of a premium. Our recommendation would be the Benromach 15 year old from Speyside. Although a relatively modest ABV at 43%, it meets the other requirements exceptionally well, and with the addition of ex-bourbon cask influence, there’s just a touch of modernity to enhance the experience even further.

But if it’s a marriage of haggis with a whisky you seek, other options might be better suited. The more heavily sherried offerings from Highland would work well, and the Edradour 10 year old fits the bill perfectly. One of the last traditional farm distilleries, Edradour are only just capable of making commercial quantities of whisky, and with a method of production remaining virtually unchanged in 150 years, they’ve clearly been doing something right. In the case of their 10 year old, the heavy influence of Oloroso sherry cask gives the intense richness that stands up well to the bold flavours of haggis.

Of course, should your preference be grape rather than grain, there are plenty of options for you on the wine side. Northern Rhone reds, pinot noir, gamay, even pais from Chile, all would work well. Feel free to come and see us and get a bespoke solution!

          “Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!”