Burns inspired whiskies of the month
Every month, our team come up with their chosen ‘whiskies of the month.’ With Scots at home, and around the world celebrating Burns Night on the 25th January, each whisky has been paired with a poem written by Robert Burns. Showcasing history, legends, and romance, these whiskies will take you on a journey through Scotland’s rich literary culture.
Check out our team reading these poems at the end of this blog.
Bladnoch Samsara paired with Auld Lang Syne
From the Lowland region we have chosen Bladnoch Samsara. Bladnoch is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland and has been through cycles of closure and reopening during its time. Bladnoch Samsara is a word in Sanskrit meaning cyclical change and rebirth; the distillery may have faced tough times but has been reborn in the 21st century with a fabulous new selection of whiskies to choose from!
Just as samsara denotes cyclical change, so does Auld Lang Syne. It is sung across the world to bring in the new year, signaling the opportunity to start afresh. Here are a few lines to enjoy:
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?”
Aberfeldy 18 paired with The Birks of Aberfeldy
Aberfeldy distillery is located in the Highland region in Perthshire and was established to provide a single malt for use in Dewar’s blend. The distillery itself lies in one of the most picturesque locations with the stillhouse having the ability to raise the shutters and distill the spirit with Scotland’s fresh air flowing through. Water is sourced from the nearby Pitlie Burn, famed for its gold deposits. The poem we have chosen is of course The Birks of Aberfeldy.
“Now summer blinks on flowery braes,
And o’er the crystal streamlets plays,
Come let us spend the lightsome days’
In the Birks of Aberfeldy.”
Balvenie French Oak paired with A Red Red Rose
Located in Speyside, Balvenie distillery is one of three, lying on William Grant’s Speyside Estate, and across from it lies Balvenie Castle. It is here that romance comes alive with the story of the red rose. The widowed Margaret Douglas married John Stewart, half-brother to King James II, and for years lived in Balvenie Castle. The rent the king requested upon granting the Castle to the Stewarts was a single yet exquisite red rose, paid by Margaret every year.
“O my love is like a red red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June,
O my love is like a melody,
That’s sweetly played in tune.”
Mac-Talla Mara paired with Tam O'Shanter
Scotland has a rich history from which has sprung many legends such as that of the Factor of Kildalton Castle. Now in disrepair, the castle was once a sight to behold and was once the home to a committed employee. This man, the factor, would rarely stray far from the castle, even when leaving the island. It is said that his ghost still wanders the grounds of the castle after he was spotted walking his terrier and wearing clothes fashioned long ago by two women before disappearing into nearby bushes. The Mac-Talla Mara is a cask strength dram from an undisclosed distillery on Islay, adding the perfect amount of mystery into your glass to be paired with this frightful poem!
“Inspiring bold John Barleycorn!
What dangers thou can’st make us scorn!
Wi’ tippenny we fear nae evil;
Wi’ usquebae we’ll face the devil!”
Timourous Beastie paired with To a Mouse
Prior to becoming a poet, Robert Burns was a farmer in his hometown of Alloway. It was whilst working on his father’s farm that he uncovered a mouse in her nest on the field that he was ploughing and this poem began to form in his mind. Douglas Laing has immortalized this little beastie in their flavoursome blended malt the Timerous Beastie. Each bottle features a little mouse gazing up at those who buy this bottle, just as the little mouse that Burns uncovered once did to him.
“Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickerin brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!”
Glendronach 21 paired with Scotch Drink
Most who know of Burns know that he was both a poet and a farmer but few know of his time as an excise officer collecting taxes on whisky. Excise men were not well liked in Scotland and, despite working as one himself for a period, neither did Burns. In 1784, Burns found himself furious with further taxation upon his favorite drink which he expresses in his poem ‘Scotch Drink’. To pair with this poem we’ve chosen as our luxury whisky of the month, the Glendronach 21, named Parliament. Though you would naturally think of government upon setting eyes of this bottle, in reality it refers to a ‘parliament’ of rooks which nest in the trees surrounding Glendronach distillery, a bird also found in Burns’ hometown of Alloway.
“Thae curst horse-leeches o’ the’ Excise,
Wha mak the whisky stells their prize!
Haud up thy han’, Deil! ance, twice, thrice!
There, seize the blinkers!
An’ bake them up in brunstane pies
For poor damn’d drinkers.”