What to drink at your Burn's Night Supper?
Whether you are planning an all-out celebration of all things Scottish, complete with readings of Robbie Burns' famous verse, heaped plates of haggis, neeps and tatties and kilt-clad ceilidh dancing or something altogether more low-key, Burns night is an excellent excuse to sample some of the fabulous food and drink produced by our northerly neighbours.
Whisky is a much more versatile drink than it often gets credit for.
Lighter styles can make for an excellent aperitif to kick off your festivities. Speyside Whiskies are generally softer in character, with notes of citrus, cereal and grass. Add a dash of water and you have a refreshing start to your meal.
For those who prefer to leave their whiskies until later on in the evening, why not try a Rock Rose Gin and Tonic?
Produced in Caithness, the most northerly county of mainland Scotland, Rock Rose is a delicately flavoured gin, infused with local Scottish botanicals. Both aperitif options would work very nicely served alongside Scottish Smoked Salmon served on traditional tattie scones - a Scotch potato cake that works very well in place of a blini.
A nice starter option is Cullen Skink - a creamy soup of smoked haddock, leek and potato.
We suggest you give the whisky a miss with this one. A light and refreshing white wine would be my choice for this. As Scottish wine options are extremely thin on the ground, we'll have to look elsewhere for that! How about staying on the British Isles and opening a bottle of Three Choirs Coleridge Hill? The light, fresh fruitiness of this wine will provide a nice foil to the rich creaminess of the soup. Alternatively, a richer, style of wine will complement the similar flavours of the soup. Errazuriz's Aconcagua Costa Chardonnay from Chile would definitely do the job here - it's got smartly judged oak and a nice creaminess that would marry very well with the creamy, smoky flavours of the Cullen Skink.
If you're after a lighter first course, why not try Scottish scallops with Stornoway black pudding?
With over 6,000 miles of Coastline, it's no surprise that Scotland has some truly world-class seafood on offer. The combination of scallops and black pudding is becoming something of a modern classic, and if you can get hold of Scottish scallops and Stornoway's famous black pudding is a perfect Burns Night option. You'd be hard pushed to beat a bottle of Albariño with this dish - Galicia's signature grape variety - which is always an excellent match for seafood. The Quinta do Soalheiro Alvarinho is an award-winning Portuguese expression of the grape which has just a hint of sweetness making it a lovely match with both the scallops and the warming spice of the black pudding.
Of course, no Burns night celebration would be complete without a classic Haggis - Scotland's national dish. While it certainly isn't much of a looker, this combination of offal, oats and spice is the very epitome of a winter warmer - particularly when served alongside a steaming mound of neeps and tatties. Traditionalists would say that this is the time to get the whisky out! The sweet smokiness of the Ledaig 10 Year Old makes an excellent pairing with the famous dish. Alternatively, emphasise the cereal flavours of the oats in the dish with a dram of Cragganmore 12 year Old.
If you're looking for a wine to match, go for the warming spiciness of a rich southern Rhone red - we particularly like La Cave de Gigondas' Vacqueyras Beaumirial, or alternatively the Aussie take on the style - perhaps Robert Oatley's GSM (that's Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvèdre to the rest of us) blend.
If you still have any room for pudding, it doesn't get much more Scottish than Cranachan - a kind of trifle made with oatmeal, double cream, raspberries, honey and of course whisky. A glass of whisky on the side of this would be the natural choice - the soft sweetness of our very own Oxford Collection 8 Year Old Blended Whisky would make it a nice partner, and it's inexpensive enough that you don't need to feel too guilty about using it in your dessert as well.
All bottles mentioned above are available for purchase online or in our stores - and we will be more than happy to furnish further recommendations should you wish for them, so please do get in touch either in person, by phone, email or any of our social accounts.