So this weekend I got some very positive news for my business as well as for all of you. On the 25th of this very month I will be hosting a Robbie Burns celebration at The Lord Amherst Public House. Now below I will be talking about who Robbie Burns is, why he matters and why Scotch Whisky factors so much into the celebration of his life. I will have lots of information, about tickets, times, and what exactly the event will entail very soon but think of this as a “Save the date”.
Robert Burns was born January 25th, 1759 in the village of Alloway in Scottish Highlands, near the town of Ayr. He grew up in poverty working as a manual labourer on a farm. Though not formally educated, he learned to read english, french and latin. As a young adult Burns was a labour leader, song writer, and poet. His most famous work is the traditional Scots folk song, Auld Lang Syne.*
By 1786, Burns was published and had moved to Edinburgh to continue is writing. Burns was a proponent of writing with native Scottish language and dialect, a rejection of the anglicization of his country. For this Burns became more than just a writer in Scotland. He also took many traditional Scottish folk songs from the spoken tradition to the page. He became a symbol for Scots who had left the homeland, because of the traditionalism and inherent “Scottishness”** of his writings.
Burns also had a healthy appetite for the drink, as anyone who writes seems to. He wrote on his love of whisky, drinking and revelry. On January 25th, Robert Burns’ birthday is celebrated world-wide and the traditional ceremony is in line with what he loved, poetry, song, haggis, and whisky.
Scotch is a drink for all occasions, before dinner, after dinner, before head-butting someone who has cast aspersions on you, after head-butting someone who has cast aspersions on you.
Here are a few situations where a dram or two of scotch will work perfectly and the specific scotch you should drink in that given situation.
Before Dinner: Auchentoshan Three Word: Aged in American bourbon, Jerez Sherry, and Port wood, this stunner is light bodied, with a nutty softness and notes of orange peel and spice. Before dinner you don’t want richness, you want something that is going to wake up you palette and get your brain into the mood for food. Auchentoshan shows up on this blog pretty regularly for a reason, it is reasonably price, it’s easy to drink and just tasty as hell.
After Dinner: The Macallan 12: A rich, heavy scotch aged in Jerez Sherry barrels with notes of dried fruit, vanilla, and spice. This scotch is still lively and lives up in the palette but it doesn’t burn the mouth. After dinner you want some sweetness and richness in your whisky. The Macallan does the trick nicely by pairing with dark chocolate, creme brûlée and dried fruits.
With a Cigar: Bruichladdie 1990 Spirit Cask Range Cognac Cask: The name isn’t the only mouthful. Bruichladdie has been long loved/detested for their never ended range of different ages and finishes*** on their beautifully soft and easy drinking whisky. This particular one spends 18 years in cognac barrels which allows the spirit to take on amazing grapy qualities as well as rich notes of mint and spice. All of these factors make it go amazingly with a great cigar. I am not a big cigar guy, but if I could afford to drink the 1990 Cognac you better believe I would become one.
After Shovelling Your Driveway: Ardbeg Uigedail: This fifteen year old Islay Whiskey matches powerful smokey peat flavours, with a deep backbone of briny sea water and a rich sherry sweetness. At 54% this whisky will warm you up from the deepest freeze. There is nothing like coming inside from a few hours of shovelling to have a few fingers of this beautiful whisky to warm you from the inside out.
Before Bed: Bowmore 18: This is a classic Islay that actually does a bit of an about face from the Ardbeg. Bowmore 18 is a sweet whiskey with beautiful notes of dutch chocolate, plum and other dried fruit. Aged for 18 years in sherry barrels this whisky has a voluptuously creamy mouthfeel and just enough heat to make you want to curl up in bed. From someone who has some trouble turning off my brain before bed, Bowmore 18 would be a great way to drift off.
*Think new years eve.
**I swear I have been told this by multiple people, over the years, that they love him for his Scottishness. Not my word, but I will steal it.
***In the store, where I worked, I kept somewhere between 46 and 60 different Bruichladdich skus in stock at all times.