Burns Night is the celebration of the life and works of one of Scotland’s most famous sons – Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns. First celebrated in 1801, this occasion is now a global affair traditionally involving readings of Burns most notable works, eating haggis with neeps and tatties, the sound of bagpipes … and of course, a dram of Scotland’s national drink.
There are a few traditions to uphold during a Burns Supper, which include welcoming the haggis with a piper procession and a whisky toast. Here are a few recommendations to join in the festivities, whether you want to enjoy them with or without the haggis.
This award-winning Scotch is affectionately known as ‘The Golden Dram’ as a tribute to its water source, the Pitilie Burn, known for its quality and rich deposits of alluvial gold. Aberfeldy Single Malt Scotch Whisky comes in four rich expressions: 12, 16, and 21 year old and a limited edition 18 year old, finished in Bolgheri Italian red wine casks.
While they are traditionally served neat, the 12 year old flavors play well with various ingredients on cocktails such as The Jolly Scotsman.
The Jolly Scotsman
2 oz. Aberfeldy 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
½ oz. Lemon juice
¼ oz. Cointreau
½ oz. Cranberry syrup
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for ~30 seconds and strain into a coupe martini/champagne glass. Garnish with a rosemary sprig and an orange slice with cloves.
A relative newcomer to the industry, Compass Box is an innovative distillery producing unique blended Whiskies. It’s the only company that uses the term “whiskymaker” – originally used by founder John Glaser, who now also has James Saxon working with him as whiskymaker.
Together they source rare “parcels” of whisky throughout distilleries in Scotland and produce unusual and compelling blends. Their most iconic core range of blends are Peat Monster, Hedonism and Story of the Spaniard; the newest blend is Orchard House. In addition, they produce Artist Blend and Glasgow Blend.
The first whisky created by Compass Box in 2000, Hedonism is the flagship whiskey of the company. Notes of vanilla cream, toffee and coconut characterize this multi-award winning dram.
“Burns Night sees a handful of our passions coming together – creativity, storytelling and delicious Scotch whisky,” says Saxon. “It is clear from Robert Burns’s poetry and literature that he knew how to have a good time. With that in mind, we’ll be celebrating him this year with a Rob Roy created with Hedonism, a whisky inspired by pleasure and the ideal marriage of grain whisky and American oak maturation.”
2 oz. Hedonism Blended Grain Scotch Whisky
¾ oz. red vermouth (at Compass they prefer Cocchi Vermouth di Torino)
Dash of Angostura bitters
Stir Hedonism with red vermouth, a dash of Angostura bitters and ice, then strain and pour into a coupe glass, and garnish with a Maraschino cherry.
Originally founded in 1826, The GlenDronach distillery is housed in the Boynsmill Estate and the historic Boynsmill House in Aberdeenshire. Operating under different ownership for almost 200 years, the distillery was an early innovator of sherry cask maturation. Today, Rachel Barrie functions as Master Blender of The GlenDronach, Benriach and Glenglassaugh distilleries, bringing 26 years’ experience in her craft.
The GlenDronach boasts four core expressions: 12, 15, 18, and 21 year old, matured in the distillery’s signature Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks. There’s also an expression that sees a second maturation in Port casks, which imparts a deep cherry wood color and enhances the fruit flavors.
The GlenDronach 15 was named “Best In Show Whiskey” from 3,000 submissions from around the globe at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Benriach Distillery, founded in 1898 in Scotland’s Speyside region, prides itself on having a distinctive portfolio of Single Malts complete with unpeated, peated and triple distilled whiskies. In the early 1970s, Benriach began distilling whisky in the 19th century style, using malted barley smoked with Highland peat, an unconventional move in a region known for crafting unpeated whiskies.
In 2017, Rachel Barrie joined as Master Blender, launching a new portfolio in 2020. Aside from the core range, Benriach releases special editions such as the Smoke Season, Malting Season, and Cask Editions. Barrie uses a wide range of eclectic casks, including virgin oak, rum, red wine, Sherry, Port, Bourbon, and even Marsala to craft her unique blends.
For something truly special, The Thirty ($760.99) is an extraordinarily rare single malt, crafted using 100% peated Benriach spirit, one of the only peated Speyside malts ever available at this age.
2 oz. Benriach The Original Ten
3/4 oz. Fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz. Honey-ginger syrup
1/4 oz. Benriach The Smoky 10
Candied ginger for garnish
Add Benriach The Original Ten, lemon juice and honey-ginger syrup into a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Top with Benriach The Smoky Ten. Garnish with a piece of candied ginger
Combine 1 cup honey, 1 (6-inch) piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced, and 1 cup water in a saucepan over high heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes. Chill overnight, then strain and discard solids.
Proud to call themselves old fashioned, Craigellachie maintains processes they have used since 1891. The Speyside producer still uses worm tubs, condensers that convert the spirit from a gas to a liquid by running the vapor through a copper tube set in a pool of cold water, in their distilling process.
All Craigellachie expressions are non-chill filtered, contain no caramel coloring and are bottled at 46% ABV. Taste profiles include roasted pineapple, toasted marshmallow, warm vanilla and spice. The most distinctive expression is the Craigellachie 13 Armagnac Cask Finish ($64.99), initially matured for 13 years in American oak, in a combination of refill and rechar Bourbon barrels, then transferred to Armagnac casks from the renowned Bas Region. It features flavors of baked apples with cinnamon and notes of caramel, in addition to the signature syrupy pineapples.
Established in 1812 by Captain William Fraser, Royal Brackla is one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries. It is known as ‘The King’s Own Whisky’, the first to be granted a Royal Warrant, by King William IV, in 1833.
Available only in New York, Chicago, and Washington D.C., these high end whiskies have an elegant character, created by malt master Stephanie Macleod’s maturation and finishing methods using selected barrels from first-fill, refill, and rechar American oak and various sherry styles. The extremely rich 21 year old ($599.99) is finished in a blend of Pedro Ximenez, Oloroso and Palo Cortado sherry casks for a fruity dram with spice overtones.