A dram for Burns night
The choice of dram for your Burns night supper is a serious affair. Research is required. With friends, with acquaintances and most importantly, in the field. Discussions can become heated and last late into the night. At great personal sacrifice I have swallowed that burden for you, and offer the following suggestions.
1. Highland Park
Balanced: You can't go wrong with Highland Park 12 year old. It's a beautifully balanced whisky perfect for all occasions. The 18 year old is superb, and the special editions are very special indeed. But if you are looking for a reasonably priced dram that will please everyone at your Burns supper. Highland Park 12 year old is one to go for.
2. Caol Ila
Smokey: All of the smoke in the world lives in Islay. It must do, otherwise they would never be able to get so much into their fine malt whiskies. Of single malts Laguvulin is probably the smokiest. It's like sticking your head up a smokey lum... not something, I hasten to add, that I have ever done. Then there are malt blends like Big Peat that take you even further up the chimney. My money however goes on Caol Ila. A little lighter on the smoke which lets the other fine flavours shine through.
Light: If you are looking for something lighter then Balblair from Tain in the heart of the highlands is a fine choice. The light colour will be the first thing you notice, but don't confuse lightness with lack of flavour. Balblair has a gorgeous fruity flavour; a complex mix that hints at apples, apricots and more. This is a definite sipper, though aren't they all. A delight that will both impress and warm your guests.
Japanese: Surely he is not going to suggest Japanese Whisky for Burns supper. Of course I am. And Burns I am sure would have fully approved, after all he did write:
"It's coming yet, for a' that,
that man to man the world o'er,
shall brithers be for a' that."
My favourite is Yamakazi. A blend of Yamakazi malts, some up to twenty years old, that creates a rich complex flavour well worth sampling. The twelve year old is good, the Distillers Reserve, superb.
Lowland: Burns was a lowlander, so it's only fitting we choose a dram from his home ground, his terroir so to speak. The Lowlands produce more whisky than any other region, but most of it goes to produce blended whisky. Auchentoshan and Glenkinchie are the exceptions. Both fine malts, but my choice goes with Auchentoshan. It is still triple distilled as was the tradition with lowland malts which gives it a soft eminently drinkable flavour.you could go for the sherry casked 32 year old, but at £1,200 a bottle you might be less than keen to splash it on your haggis. My choice would be the cask strength Valinch. At 57% it is no weakling and should be treated with respect. I find a little more water than usual releases the concentrated flavour. Burns would have loved it.
One final point on protocol. It is often asked, should whisky be poured on the haggis, or served with it? The answer is clearly both, and before and after.
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