Scottish people around the globe will be celebrating the birthday of national writer Robert Burns with drams of whisky, traditional suppers and recitals of his poetry.
The Bard’s life is celebrated with gatherings over dinners of haggis – a savoury dish made from sheep heart, liver and lungs prepared in stomach lining – renditions of his song Auld Lang Syne that is widely sung at New Year’s Eve and plenty of cheer and merriment.
10 best Scotch Whiskies
10 best Scotch Whiskies
1/10 Glen Grant 10-Year-Old
Dry, peaty, and very sophisticated, this Speyside 10-year-old is a steal. Little wonder it’s one of the world’s best-selling single malts and received 95 points in Jim Murray’s most recent Whisky Bible. An easy-going dram, not too heavy on the smoke. £29, timeswhiskyclub.com
2/10 Talisker Storm
Those facing a wet 25 January, should shelter themselves from the elements with a dram of Talisker Storm. The excellent distillery has drawn from its maritime surrounds – on the coast of the Isle of Skye – and has fashioned a rich, smoky drink. £34, waitrose.com
3/10 The Glenrothes 1998 Vintage
The first of the Glenrothes vintages to emerge from the distillery since new Malt Master, Gordon Motion, took over. Some accuse it of being too simple on the palate - caramel and spice feature heavily - but for our money, that’s the charm of this gentle drink. £55, bbr.com
4/10 Ballantine’s 17-Year-Old
Ballantine’s teenager has won a constellation of awards of late including Scotch of the year 2013 in the Whisky Bible. We love this full-bodied blended scotch, with its creamy texture, flavours of vanilla and slight kick in the finish. £44, masterofmalt.com
5/10 Ardbeg Uigeadail
Named for the loch where the celebrated distillery gets its waters, this whisky has been showered with awards. Sweet and silky, it provides the perfect finish to a Burns supper. £60, ocado.com
6/10 Johnnie Walker Black Label 12-Year-Old
For the price, this shows the skill of the blender remarkably well. It combines oomph on the tongue with sophistication and silkiness. There is vanilla, there is peat, and there is raisin flavours, too – together they’re formidable. You can see why the Royal Household favour JW. £29,waitrose.com
7/10 Balblair 2003
This 2003 was matured in old bourbon casks until 2013, when the honeyed liquor was decanted into the beautiful Balblair bottles. On the palate it has a touch of orange, oodles of honey and a good spicy finish. The distillery at its best. £39.99, thedrinkshop.com
8/10 Highland Park 25-Year-Old
A single malt, matured in old sherry and bourbon casks, this is of singular quality. It hits the tongue in a tidal wave of loveliness, rich honey, toffee and white chocolate. For a whisky of its age, it is surprisingly sweet, and all the better for it. £188, thewhiskyexchange.com
9/10 The Glenlivet 12 year old
Very popular and reasonably priced, but don’t think this isn’t a quality whisky. Bring a bottle of this smooth, refreshing and easy-drinking Speyside to a Burns supper, and you’ll be a very popular guest. £25.60, ocado.com
10/10 Glen Garioch 1797
Founder’s Reserve This single malt, from one of the oldest producers in Scotland, reaches maturity in bourbon and sherry casks. The makers claim its robust qualities of flavour, spice and richness make it the perfect accompaniment to a haggis. It tastes very fine on its own too. £29.20, masterofmalt.com
Retailers of alcohol are expecting a huge leap in sales today as last year’s takings increased by 61 per cent in off-licences and 21 per cent in pubs, according to the Aberdeen Press and Journal.
These figures are in comparison to the first three weekends of the month, that is also known as “Dry January” due to vows to quit drinking after indulging in too much over Christmas.
Burns, who wrote more than 550 well-known poems and songs before his death in 1796, mainly focused on political and civil issues that made him into an important Scottish icon for liberalism and socialism.
A traditional Burns Night celebration would start with a host reading the “Address to a Haggis,” which is an ode Burns wrote in appreciation of the classic Scottish dish. This is a signal for the feast to begin.
Vegetarians and pescetarians, or those who want to challenge tradition, can opt for haggis made without meat and seafood such as Cullen Skink soup made from smoked haddock in addition to neeps and tatties (mash made from swede and potato).
Also known as Rabbie Burns and named the “greatest Scot of all time” by STV in 2009, the poet from Ayrshire died of rheumatic fever at the young age of 37 and his funeral was held on the same day his son Maxwell was born.
His body was transferred from a churchyard grave to a mausoleum in Dumfries where his wife Jean Armour was also laid to rest after her death in 1834.
Although celebrations are mainly held at people’s homes with Scots donning their family tartan and decorating with the Saltire flag, many restaurants will also be offering these options on their menus in specially-themed Burns Night dinners.
Bars and pubs are also holding celebrations across the UK with plenty of music and tributes to the Bard.Reuse content