Looking to toast Scotland's national bard on the 25th? Here are 8 great Scottish drinks we recommend to make the most of Burns Night. 

“Inspiring bold John Barleycorn! What dangers thou canst make us scorn! Wi’ tipenny (ale), we fear nae evil; Wi’ usquebae (whisky), we’ll face the devil!”  – Tam O’Shanter

The cold, dark month of January has little in the way of respite to offer, luckily enough for us Scots; we do have one night of this month to celebrate. For January 25th is Burns night, the night we celebrate our national bard.

As with any Scottish party we are inviting the whole world to join in, so this Burn’s night why not indulge in a little whisky, gin or even rum with your haggis, neeps and tatties, and toast the man himself?

•  READ MORE: When is Burns Night? Date, origins, traditions and how to host a proper Burns supper

Here are our recommendations for Scottish drinks that we think the bard would most definitely approve of:

Hills and Harbour Gin

(Price: £38)

After giving up the agricultural life Burns moved to Dumfries and it’s near there that you’ll find the exciting Crafty Distillery.

Reflecting the forests and coastlines of its home, this distillery’s wonderful core gin uses Bladderwack seaweed and noble fir needles, as well as dried mango and Green Szechuan Pepper, to create a rich and intriguing flavour that will have you coming back for more. Perfect with a nice tonic and a slice of fresh mango for garnish.

Kilchoman – Sanaig

(Price: £52 approx.)

We should make note that although he was an exciseman, Rabbie often spoke out against the taxation of our beloved drink, so illicit distilling would have probably appealed to his roguish nature.

Although illicit stills are hard to find these days, the small Islay farm distillery of Kilchoman comes close to the feel and nature of those small hidden stills.

Scottish drinks Burns Night

Picture: Whisky Exchange

Their Sanaig bottling is a particularly flavoursome, punchy little malt; like liquid charcoal in a glass, the extra sherry cask maturation adds a subtle balance of fruit to complement the smoke. Perfect for those who prefer their malts peaty.

Wester Spiced Rum

(Price: £35.00)

It is a little known fact that Rabbie Burns almost left Scotland for the Caribbean to be a sugar plantation clerk before his poems made him famous and there is little doubt he’d find mirth in the fact that a spiced rum would eventually be made so close to his birthplace.

Scottish drinks Burns Night

Picture: Wester Spirits Co.

This small batch spiced rum is made in Partick in Glasgow of all places and is infused with the finest spices, citrus zests and vanilla to create the perfect winter warmer to enjoy with your friends (it also works perfectly well as a wee dessert dram).

Robert Burns Beer – Belhaven 

(Price: £20.40 for 12 x 500ml bottles)

Founded in 1719, Belhaven claims to be Scotland’s oldest brewery and would have been around when Burns was still alive.

Picture: Belhaven

In honour of the bard, the brewery, which celebrates its 300th anniversary this year, has released this “Warm, reeking in’ rich” brown ale that will perfectly compliment your main course!

Rabbie’s Porter – Ayr Brewery

(Price: £2.50)

Another brewery that would have been local to Rabbie Burns, though one not as big as Belhaven, Ayr Brewery have named one of their multi-award winning beers after the man himself.

Rabbie’s Porter is brewed using Challenger & Pioneer Hops along with Crystal and Chocolate Malts to create a rich luxurious beer with notes of Roast Coffee, Gingerbread and Chocolate meaning it’ll happily stand toe to toe with any haggis.

Lassies Toast Gin

(Price: £34)

With the “Toast to the Lassies” the traditional way to celebrate the end of the Burns Night meal, this wee gin has been designed as a drink for the lassies by the excellent team behind Rock Rose Gin.

It features bilberry leaves, strawberry leaves, heather tops, speedwell and wild thyme, ingredients found in the Moorland tea recipe, all collected locally by Hanna the distillery’s gardener.

Be quick though, it goes on sale on the 10th January, and usually sells out pretty quick.

Cutty Sark – Tam O’Shanter 25 year-old Blended Whisky

(Price: £315 approx.)

For those who like to stay in the pub perhaps a little longer than they should, a whisky named after the epic Tam O’Shanter might be an interesting choice.

Scottish drinks Burns Night

Cutty Sark’s 25 year-old blend is named after the Bard’s most famous poem, though unlike the poem this whisky will hopefully be the only spirit involved.

Slightly more pricey, so this one might be best kept for a dinner shared with friends.

All toffee and raisin notes and with a great depth in character, if this isn’t an excuse to stay for another dram we don’t know what is.

Arran – Robert Burns Single Malt

(Price: £30 approx.)

Finally to a malt endorsed by the World Burns Federation, what better way to toast your Burns supper than with a malt produced especially for the occasion.

Scottish drinks Burns Night

 

Arran distillery’s Burns malt is a zesty and malt-filled with notes of apples and pears, perfect for complementing your haggis, neeps and tatties.

Whichever whisky,gin, beer or rum you choose on the night, be sure to have a great one.

Slainte mhath!

About The Author

Sean Murphy

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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