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Drams For A Burns Supper

‘Wi' tippeny, we fear nae evil;
Wi' usquabae, we’ll face the devil!’

Or, in other words, the best way to brighten a devilish, gloomy January is to invite your friends round and enjoy some Scotch Whisky, also known as ‘usquabae’. These lines were taken from the spooky poem Tam O’ Shanter, written by the Scottish eighteenth-century poet Robert Burns. Every year on January 25th people come together to celebrate his works and eat a nice Burns Supper.

If you’re going to chase the January blues away with a wee gathering you may as well do it in honour of the Scottish Bard. You don’t need to sing, you don’t need to be Scottish and it doesn’t even really need to be on the 25th – whatever way you want to do it, it’s always fun to celebrate. This, of course, leads to the question: what is the best whisky for you and your friends to sip on?

Well, our team have prepared a full guide of delicious drams fit for a Burns Supper. We have recommended whiskies which might pair with the meal and even drams to go with a couple of poems. From Single Malts to Blended Whisky, we have you sorted - all of which can be found in our whisky shop at the distillery!

Clydeside Shop Dan BurmanClydeside Shop - Dan Burman

The Main Course - Haggis

Veggie or traditional, haggis is always a hearty, richly spiced dish. Scotland’s signature recipe often features a lot of black pepper and coriander giving it its full-bodied flavour. This may make you wonder: which is the best whisky to pair with such a spiced flavour? Do you want to match spice with spice? Or compliment the flavours with something a little bit smoother. The answer, as always, is it depends! It depends on individual tastes, what you’re in the mood for or even what else you have eaten that day.

Matching Spice with Spice

Our Visitor Experience Colleague Ronny loves a bit of spice and isn’t afraid to pair haggis with something equally flavoursome. Ronny recommends Talisker 18 year old: the peppery and smokey flavours for him work really well with the peppery spice in the meal. This whisky really evokes its origins, with the peat and sea air whisking you away to the silvery beaches of the Isle of Skye. Although a Lowlander, Burns himself would approve of a wee toast to the Isle of Skye. He often wrote about and romanced the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie who, as we all know, fled over the sea to Skye. Have some Talisker with your Haggis and spiritually flee to the Isle of Skye.

Burns Blog - RonnyRonny Grant - Visitor Experience Colleague

Whatever whisky you decide on please make sure you don’t have too many before the Address to the Haggis – nobody likes a tipsy reading nor do they want the person attempting to stab the ‘chieftain of the pudding race’ to be too far gone…

A Sweet Treat - Cranachan

If your meal is centred around Scottish cuisine, then you are likely to have some tasty cranachan for dessert. For those that don’t know, this is a bit like the Scottish version of Eton Mess; it’s made with cream, oats, honey and raspberries. One of the main differences, a difference that makes it far superior in our opinion, is that it contains whisky! A wee drop of whisky sets the creamy, oaty and tangy flavours off perfectly. Yet, there is actually some craft in choosing the best whisky to put in. You don’t want to be splashing Ardbeg around in there; that is a smokey dram which will mask the rest of the flavours and leave a very strange, cloying taste in your mouth. Yes, some of us have experienced this personally.

A Honeyed Dram with a Honeyed Treat

Our Café Manager Lizzy recommends Glengoyne 10 to go in a cranachan. She says the light quality of the whisky will play well within the rest of the recipe. The vanilla and butterscotch notes will complement the sweetness of the cream while the oaky undertones garnered from some sherry cask influence works perfectly with the oats. Drop a splash of Glengoyne 10 in the recipe and keep a dram or two to go along with it.

Burns Blog - LizzyLizzy Murphy - Cafe Manager

Lizzy also recommends the Scotch Blended Whisky Banknote as a light, easy-going dram that brightens up this scrumptious dessert and is also delicious tasted neat. Pour a dram and then, as Burns says in ‘You’re Welcome Willie Stewart’:

‘Come, bumpers high, express your joy,
The bowl we maun renew it,’

Or in other words - say cheers together and go and get seconds!

Ae Fond Kiss

This is possibly Burns’ sweetest song; if you don’t have somebody to sing it on the night, we would recommend sticking the Eddi Reader version! Burns wrote this song of lost love after he found out that his tryst with Nancy Craig was tragically put to an end. She was leaving the country to go to Jamaica! This inspired him to write:

‘I’ll ne’er blame my partial fancy

Nothing could resist my Nancy

For to see her was to love her

Love but her and love forever’

We think this is pretty poignant stuff and very worthy of an accompanying, equally powerful dram. When another one of our Visitor Experience Colleagues Jesme was asked to think of a whisky that goes along with Ae Fond Kiss she decided to go for something that may at first appear to be a little…unconventional.

A Love That’s Sweet and Fiery

Jesme has gone for Smokehead Sherry Bomb. This is a highly peated smokey whisky that is also finished in sherry casks, leading to a dram that balances earthy flavours with dry, raisin-y richness. It’s a love that’s rough around the edges, lush and exciting. Yet this dram has another aspect: it is fiery. Smokehead Sherry Bomb is bottled at 48% alcohol by volume leading to a very full-on, heated experience. Jesme argues, and we think Burns would agree, that love is like that too; explosive, with a lingering finish.

Burns Blog - JesmeJesme Wales - Visitor Experience Colleague

Auld Lang Syne

Possibly one of Burn’s best-known works is this song, mostly mumbled and occasionally sang at Hogmanay. This is really one for us Scots to be proud of with the influence of this song found all over the world.

In the chorus, Burns describes sharing a drink to honour loved ones that you haven’t seen for a while. For a lot of people these memories of ‘a long time since’ are associated with whisky: sometimes a beloved grandad who loved an Islay malt, a dram shared with a friend who has moved away or even the dram you sipped on your wedding day.

A Family Dram

For David, one of our Process Operators, the whisky that reminds him of a good time spent with friends and family is Glenfarclas 15. In his family, someone always makes sure that there is a bottle of this nutty, rich whisky at the table at Christmas. Although for many this is a perfect dessert whisky, the Welsh family can’t wait that long and like to enjoy it throughout the meal. Surprisingly, not everyone in his family is a whisky drinker and yet they all find the 15 quite palatable owing to its sweet and sherried flavours. It's actually the only whisky his wife enjoys! For David, this whisky is one he associates with chatter, warmth and the family. So whatever you fancy, share a cup of something with your people for old times sake.

Burns Blog - DavidDavid Welsh - Processor Operator 

‘We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet

For auld lang syne.’

Kick your Burns Night off in style with a tour of The Clydeside Distillery, Glasgow's first dedicated single malt whisky distillery in over 100 years! Two tour options available over the Burns weekend, The Clydeside Tour & Chocolate & Whisky Tour

Or simply join us for a dram or whisky flight in the Clydeside cafe, open until 5pm.