O Whisky! soul o’ plays and pranks
Accept a bardie’s grateful thanks!
When wanting thee, what tuneless cranks
Are my poor verses!
Well, who hasn’t let their bardic concentration slip from time to time, after a dram? Scotland’s national bard was no stranger, apparently, to the joy that whisky brings.
The bold John Barleycorn is a necessary element of some of his most famous poems. Where would Tam O’ Shanter be if he hadn’t ventured on a wee nip of whisky? He would have been in bed, no doubt, sleeping soundly, rather than dancing with witches and warlocks to strathspeys and reels.
Inspiring bold John Barleycorn
What dangers thou canst make us scorn
Wi’ tippeny, we fear nae evil
Wi’ usquabae (whisky), we’ll face the devil!
(Tam O’ Shanter)
It’s fitting, of course, that we have a Burns Night rather than a ‘Burns Day’. A lot of his poetry deals with the feelings, emotions and characters that come out more freely at night. Those things we hide, sometimes to protect ourselves, or to protect our celebrations and joy. How whisky connects to emotions is a mystery, but there’s no doubt it does.
Auld Lang Syne. Ae Fond Kiss and then we sever. My love is like a red, red rose. Burns’ distilling of feelings is why we love him so. The hurt heart of love at its end. The remembering of times gone past with friends. The freedom to dance and enjoy life while we’re living it. To share a dram together.
One of Burns’ most famous poems is “A Man’s a Man for a’ that“. He had time for everyone and saw their worth. It is this feeling that we’re all Jock Tamson’s bairns that is one of the most important things to celebrate on Burns Night.
For a’ that, an‘ a’ that,
It’s coming yet for a’ that,
That Man to Man, the world o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that.
So what whisky to drink on the twenty fifth of January? A Lowland malt, no doubt. Something fresh and light to counterbalance the haggis. Something that shines in the glass when lifted to the light.
Maybe a rare thirty year old Linlithgow? Or a nineteen year old from the now silent St. Magdalene Distillery? We’ve collected some of the finest rare whiskies from the Lowlands for you to choose from.
I’ll leave you with one final poem from the master and wish you all the best for Burns Night. Across the world, glasses will be raised to the great chieftain o’ the pudding race (the noble Haggis) and we’ll all tak’ a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
Here’s a bottle and an honest friend.
What wad ye wish for mair, man?
Wha kens, before his life may end,
What his share may be o’ care, man?
Then catch the moments as they fly,
And use them as ye ought, man:
Believe me, happiness is shy,
And comes not aye when sought, man.
(A Bottle & Friend)
Slàinte, Robert Burns.