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  • Writer's pictureGenevieve

A Burns Night Inspired Whisky Tasting

On Thursday the 25th of January we held a Burns Night Inspired Whisky Tasting in Kenton. Burns Night is traditionally a celebration of the life and works of Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet. The tradition was started by 9 of Burns' close friends who gathered together to celebrate him after he had passed away. The first ever Burns Night was held in 1801, so the tradition has been going for more than 200 years. Apparently the original evening was deemed such a success that Burns' friends continued to get together each year on his birthday to repeat the celebration, and because Burns had become well known and well regarded during his lifetime, this tradition caught on with the Scottish public. Burns himself is widely influential - he wrote his first poem at the age of 15, and in his short life (he died at the age of 37), he wrote over 500 poems and songs. Even if you don't think you know any works by Robert Burns, you probably do - "Auld Lang Syne" was one of the many songs he wrote. Impressively, 'Auld Lang Syne' is recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the top three most popular songs in the entire English language. Today Burns Night is celebrated globally, which is surely a testament not just to Burns himself, but to other aspects of Scottish culture - with whisky being a particularly exemplary part of it!

Our focus for the evening remained whisky and tasting whisky - yet the whiskies we chose for the tasting were all inspired in some way by Robert Burns and Burns Night.

We started the tasting with Arran's single malt release, 'Robert Burns', named in honour of the great poet. This bottling is officially endorsed by the World Burns Federation, and Arran is able to lay claim to the name for its whisky by virtue of the fact that it is the distillery closest to the town where Burns was born. We also tasted Glenfiddich 12 - a classic Scotch which is routinely the number one selling single malt in the world, and so a must taste if you're at all interested in Scotland and their great whisky-making reputation. Tomatin's Legacy was also included in our tasting. It was chosen to highlight again the complexity and quality of Scotch, as this non-age-statement single malt was awarded an extraordinary 99/100 at a prestigious International Wine & Spirits Competition in 2022. We moved on to tasting Douglas Laing's Timorous Beastie - named for one of Burns' famous poems, 'To a Mouse'. This whisky is a blended malt, and so also served as a nod to the fact that more than 90% of all whisky sales world-wide are blends. We selected Craigellachie 13 as our next whisky because it comes from one of the very few distilleries that still employ the use of traditional worm tubs in their whisky making process. This is cited as part of the reason for this Speyside single malt's unusual 'meaty' flavour profile. We saw some parallels between this traditional approach to whisky making, and the degree to which Robert Burns could be considered a traditionalist in terms of his commitment to preserving and celebrating Scottish folk songs and cultural traditions. The final whisky we tasted was Ledaig 10 - selected in part because Scotland is known worldwide for producing some infamously smoky whisky, and this was a good example of just that. But we also chose to taste Ledaig 10 because of the name itself - Ledaig is actually pronounced something like "LEH-chick", and we felt that including a whisky with this challenging pronunciation was also a fitting tribute to Burns, as so many of his works are written in an old Scottish dialect, and so can present a bit of a challenge to a modern (and non-Scottish!) reader.

We also realise we have an incredible community here in Kenton, and were so fortunate to have one of our attendees so generously offer to make some haggis for everyone. He even recited Burns' famous "Address to a Haggis" for us - superbly delivered and definitely the highlight of the evening - before everyone tucked into the haggis and the platters provided at the end of the tasting, all of which were inspired by the dishes you might expect from a traditional Burns Supper.


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