January 19, 2022 — A Burns Night Super isn’t quite as front of mind as say Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day but it is gaining in popularity. It’s all about celebrating the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns.
Robert Burns, also known as Rabbie Burns, was born January 25, 1759 in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland. He died at 37 years old on July 21, 1796, at Dumfries, Dumfriesshire. In his short life he was regarded as the national poet of Scotland and celebrated for his romantic poems and the lyrics to over 300 songs. One which we all know well was “Auld Lang Syne”.
His family was quite poor and he worked as a farmhand, but his father believed in education and hired a tutor for his sons, the early version of home schooling. He was a romantic, a ladies man who fathered 12 children by four different women, dreaming up poetry about his relationships as he worked in the fields. His first collection Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, was published in 1786. It sold out in weeks. A second edition was released followed by editions being published in London, Dublin, Philadelphia and New York. Burns became well-known in the English-speaking world and over the centuries, increasingly popular it seems.
According to the British Heritage web site, there are apparently more statues of this Scottish poet Robert Burns in the US than anywhere else outside Scotland. The
Robert Burns Association of North America documents Burns Night Suppers being held from Atlanta, Georgia to Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories!
So what and when makes a traditional Burns Night Supper celebration? Burns Night is celebrated on his birthday, January 25. This year that falls on Tuesday so, we have been told, many celebrations are being held the following weekend January 28- 30.
As one might expect, the menu features a wee bit of whisky or more likely, quite a bit of whisky and that great Scottish invention: haggis. There are recipes for haggis online and there are places that will ship it to you. We chatted with the delightful people at Scottish Gourmet USA, which struck us as an oxymoron, but they do a roaring business at this time of year shipping complete dinners across the country. They even have plaid table runners and napkins to help create the right atmosphere. The traditional Burmns Night Supper starts with cock-a-leekie soup, followed by haggis served with neeps and tatties. Translation: haggis with mashed swedes, also known as rutabaga, and mashed potatoes. As for libations, single malt Scotch seems to be de rigeur for this elevated occasion. We’re happy to recommend the biggest selling single malt in the U.S. — Glenfiddich 12 Year-Old. Reasonably priced at $39.99 it a very enjoyable, smooth whisky with a long finish. Or uncork a truly opulent, 26-Year-Old Glenfiddich expression with the Grande Couronne that has an extended finish in rare French Cognac casks. $600.00.
Another enjoyable single malt is The Balvenie Doublwood 12. Doublewood refers to two different types of wood: American Oak ex-bourbon barrels and hogsheads, and Spanish oak ex-Oloroso sherry casks. The whisky spends 12 years in the American oak then it is moved to the sherry casks for about nine months bringing depth and fullness of flavor. The final few month in tuns allow the whiskies to marry harmoniously, creating a smooth and mellow taste with beautifully combined flavors. ($59.99)
With dinner over, what’s for dessert? Probably more whisky or maybe Scottish shortbread, cheeses or sticky pudding. We think the perfect finale would be Drambuie, that delicious, iconic Scotch Whisky Liqueur infused with heather honey, herbs and spices complemented by a cup of coffee and perhaps accompanied by a reading of the honoree’s poems.