Food & Drink

6 superb Scottish whiskies for Burns Night celebrations

These snifters will set in motion an evening of poetry and ditties, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

Celebrate Scottish poet Robert Burns with one of these selected Scotch whiskies
Master of Malt The Burns Night Blend 8 Year Old, Master of Malt Celebrate Scottish poet Robert Burns with one of these selected Scotch whiskies (Alex Holbrook)

Thanks to the popularity of Burns Night, rolling out the tartan carpet on January 25 to mark the birth date of Robert Burns, Scotland’s most famous poet, is the perfect excuse to raise a wee dram… or two.

And if you’re thinking of going a step further and pairing different whiskies to complement a classic Burns Night supper, you’ll be surprised how versatile these amber beauties are.

As Billy Abbott, The Whisky Exchange’s whisky ambassador puts it: “Burns Night is a great way to get people into Scotch whisky, combining heritage and tradition with great food and drink.

“It’s the perfect time to try new whiskies and, most importantly, share the experience with friends.”

To get the party started, we’ve nosed out some of the best…

1. Glenn Orrin 3 Year Old Peated Whisky, £17.99 (70cl), Aldi, in-store

Glenn Orrin 3 Year Old Peated Whisky, Aldi

A great entry-level whisky, this blended malt with its delicate smokiness, lush golden fruits with hints of butterscotch, heather, green moss, spice and lingering peaty finish makes a wonderful match with the spicy notes of haggis; and one to serve alongside those traditional neeps and tatties.

2. Benriach The Original Ten Whisky, £39 (70cl), Master of Malt

Benriach The Original Ten Whisky, Master of Malt

Think Scottish langoustine or smoked haddock chowder (Cullen skink) and the smooth nuances of this Speyside single malt matured in three casks – bourbon, sherry and virgin oak – offers gorgeous flavours of sherried, honeyed fruit, baking spice, toasty oak and lick of vanilla on the smooth, mellow finish.

3. Glen Moray 12 Year Old, Speyside Single Malt, £39.75 (70cl), The Whisky Exchange

Glen Moray 12 Year Old, Speyside Single Malt, The Whisky Exchange

A really good all-rounder, Abbott cites Glen Moray 12 Year Old for its “crisp and punchy flavours, which can stand up to the classic hearty fish soup”, and for added kudos, it’s made down the road from the seaside town of Cullen. Very appealing, matured in American oak casks for its smooth, sweet character with orchard fruits punctuated by green apple notes, vanilla toffee, spiced oak and enticing toasty notes.

4. Master of Malt The Burns Night Blend 8 Year Old, £39.95 (70cl), Master of Malt

Master of Malt The Burns Night Blend 8 Year Old, Master of Malt (Alex Holbrook)

An exciting expression, this blended Scotch offers the best of both worlds with a dedicated dram in honour of ‘The Bard’. Uniting malt and grain from across the Highlands, Lowland, Speyside and Islay, this is a snapshot of Scottish whisky in a glass. A complex blend of creamy, fudge flavours topped with rich spices, juicy orchard fruits, honeysuckle and subtle smoky accent, it should inspire a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne.

5. Berry Bros & Rudd Classic Sherry Cask, Single Malt Scotch Whisky, £46 (70cl), Berry Bros & Rudd

Berry Bros & Rudd Classic Sherry Cask, Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Berry Bros & Rudd (Krystian Krzewinski)

With its beguiling sherried nose, flavours of dried fruits, candied orange peel, honeyed toasty notes, brown sugar, figs, creamy toffee and baking spice, this own-label is smooth, sweet and rich. A fruit-filled delight with distinct sherry notes and nutty undertones, it will appeal to a broad range of drinkers. One for Scottish beef fillet and crispy, roast potatoes.

6. Tamdhu 12 Year Old Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky, £55.50 (70cl), Tamdhu

Another suggestion for sherry devotees, or newbies to sherry-matured whisky, the full-bodied flavours of Tamdhu work wonders with tangy blue cheeses – and you really can’t go wrong with this sherried Speyside stunner. Opulent with layers and layers of dried fruits, exotic spice, hints of banana, boiled sweets, a butterscotch sweetness, shortbread and veil of peaty smoke, it’s an excellent choice with Lanark Blue cheese and oat biscuits. Let the fun begin!