“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?
Here are our recommendations for Scottish drinks that we think the bard would most definitely approve of:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Founded in 1719, Belhaven claims to be Scotland's oldest brewery and would have been around when Burns was still alive.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.