This Burns Night we’ll be toasting Scottish icon and poet, Robert Burns with a dram of single malt Scotch whisky. But with so many choices, which one should we pour into our glass? Here are some of our favourites.
Old Pulteney’s core collection is bursting with the power and subtlety of the sea, a reflection of the whiskies maritime heritage. The range of premium expressions appeal to all tastes and budgets to suit everyone, from the occasional whisky drinker to the seasoned enthusiasts.
The youngest of the core collection and called ‘unashamedly excellent’ by the prestigious Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible’, Old Pulteney’s 12-years-old is the flagship expression in the Old Pulteney family. Matured wholly in air-dried, hand-selected ex-bourbon casks, the 12-years-old offers a smooth medium-bodied whisky boasting a sweet long-lasting finish. With its citrus and salty flavour notes, pair this whisky with some homemade fudge for an evening of indulgence.
Perfect for: A whisky lover looking to toast Burns Night with friends.
Aged in both American and Spanish oak casks, Old Pulteney’s exclusive 17-years-old strikes the perfect balance between maturity and the distillery’s signature coastal style. Slightly woody with a hint of butterscotch, sweet aromas of apples and pears work in harmony to deliver an unmatched flavour, favoured by whisky enthusiasts the world over.
Perfect for: An established whisky drinker who would appreciate a dram with a difference and a bit of poetry on the side this Burns Night.
Mellowed for a quarter of a century, the 25 Year Old has matured in the invigorating sea air of Wick, giving it a subtle maritime flavour.
This elegant whisky began its journey in ex-bourbon American oak barrels for 22 years. Its spicy sweetness was later granted depth and colour by ex-oloroso Spanish oak butts.
A glimmering bronze colour, the expression opens with scents of heavy spices and dark chocolate followed by rum-soaked raisins, lime honey and punctuated with clean notes of orange peel and baked apples.
The flavour is firmly anchored in bitter chocolate and creamy vanilla with hints of toffee sweetness and crisp overtones of fresh lemon and coconut. The finish is long and spicy with a glimpse of dried fruit cake and exotic wood, ensuring each dram reflects its expert craftsmanship with a rich and satisfying taste. Appreciated by more finely tuned palates, this is the pièce de résistance from the core collection.
Perfect for: An extra special dram for whisky connoisseurs to end an evening with friends and family on Burns Night.
Speyburn Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Crafted deep in the heart of Speyside, Speyburn is the only distillery to use the pure, fresh water from the Granty Burn stream, a major tributary of the River Spey. Since 1897, the stunning natural environment has resulted in an authentic and award-winning Core Collection boasting everything you want from a Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
Appealing to all tastes and budgets, and recently re-packaged, there is an expression to suit the occasional whisky dabbler and social spirit drinker to enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike.
Speyburn’s Bradan Orach is an essential for any whisky drinker. Gaelic for ‘Golden Salmon’, the expression was named in honour of the world class salmon fishing found on the River Spey.
Energetic and appealing, this is the brightest member of the Speyburn range, distinguished by its light, golden amber colour. Matured exclusively in American oak ex-bourbon casks, this subtle, sweet and refreshing expression perfectly combines the delicate flavours of honey and vanilla, with green apple and lemon, resulting in a creamy, spicy and deliciously long-lasting finish.
Perfect for: An evening of poetry, food, drink and conviviality this January.
Stockists: Sainsbury’s (Scotland only) and selected independents.
RRP for a 70cl bottle: £27
10 Years Old
Speyburn 10 Years Old brings bold flavours and a long, smooth finish – a popular choice amongst whisky drinkers.
Recognised by its golden colour with amber highlights, this fine Single Malt is matured in a combination of American oak ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. Alongside a fresh lemon scent, the global favourite has a unique flavour with a sweet blend of toffee, butterscotch and vanilla and a subtle citrus tone – ideal for a cold and cosy winter’s night by the fire.
Perfect for: A whisky enthusiast looking for a winter warmer to toast Burns Night with friends.
Stockists: Booths and selected independents.
RRP for a 70cl bottle: £32
15 Years Old
The stunning, Speyburn 15 Years Old is the newest, addition to the Speyburn core range.
Fifteen years maturing in American and Spanish oak casks have allowed this bold whisky to embrace the rich, natural elements of Speyside. Amber with golden highlights in appearance, this stunning dram has the aroma of dark chocolate, vanilla, orange, raisins and spice. The taste is full-bodied, with notes of citrus fruits and a creamy, warm and long-lasting finish.
Perfect for: A rich, full bodied and worthy dram to finish your Burns supper.
Stockists: Independent and specialist retailers.
RRP for a 70cl bottle: £60
A Toast to the Lassies and Reply to the Toast to the Lassies
One of the most popular parts of the evening is probably the famous Toast to the Lassies and Reply to the Toast to the Lassies. Usually incorporating quotes from Burns, these are comical monologues, light hearted and positive (with the odd sharp observation).
Kilchoman Distillery’s Machir Bay (£45.95) is a vatting of whisky matured in first-fill bourbon casks for around six years, married and then finished in oloroso sherry butts before bottling. This Single Malt is full of character and will match well with the tone of this part of the evening!
And to finish…
No Burns Night is complete without a rousing rendition of Auld Land Syne in a final salute to the Bard. At Arran, we produce the only whisky endorsed by the World Robert Burns Federation – The Robert Burns Single Malt (£31.99) and it’s the perfect choice for raising a birthday toast to Scotland’s most beloved poet. This is a sweet and creamy malt with flavours of honey and toffee-glazed pecans. Easy to drink, full of fresh citrus notes, its mellow character makes it ideal for cocktails, enjoyed by itself over ice or with a drop of water.
anCnoc Single Malt Whisky – 2002 Vintage
anCnoc 2002 Vintage follows in the footsteps of the highly successful 2001 last year. This mature expression is bright amber in appearance and bursting with notes of spicy Christmas cake, liquorice and toffee, closely followed by a spiced vanilla aroma and the citrusy finish anCnoc is known for. To taste, there is the sweetness of chocolate perfectly contrasted with orange zest and a hint of leather, leaving drinkers with a long warming finish
Perfect for: A whisky lover who is always on the look-out to taste the latest dram!
Peatheart is the most recent release from the brand and is the seventh Peaty whisky to join the award-winning collection. One of the smokiest offerings to date, Peatheart results in an intensely warm yet smooth finish. This expression delivers an initial smoky burst on the nose which surrenders to a surge of fruitiness, with ripe pears, apples and lime cutting through. To taste, smokey flavours are laced with leather and sweet stewed apples closely followed by chocolate and sweet vanilla. Peatheart’s dark but delicate spirit is the ideal dram for connoisseurs looking to explore a different side of whisky.
Perfect for: Seasoned peat-lovers or those who are open-minded and looking for something surprising
RRP: for a 70cl bottle: £52
Stockist: Master of Malt
Isle of Arran Distillers
No Burns Night is complete without a rousing rendition of Auld Land Syne in a final salute to the Bard. At Arran, they produce the only whisky endorsed by the World Robert Burns Federation and it’s the perfect choice for raising a birthday toast to Scotland’s most beloved poet. This is a sweet and creamy malt with flavours of honey and toffee-glazed pecans. Easy to drink, full of fresh citrus notes, its mellow character makes it ideal for cocktails, enjoyed by itself over ice or with a drop of water.
Nicholson’s Whisky Showcase
Or if heading out for your Burn’s Supper appeals, Nicholson’s will be hosting its second annual Whisky Showcase at The Philharmonic Dining Rooms in Liverpool, as well as celebrating Scotland with their special Burns Night menu available until January 28.
Whisky-lovers and keen novices are spoilt for choice with a selection of over 40 UK and global drams on offer – highlights from this year’s Showcase include Bruichladdich’s Classic Laddie, Hibiki Harmony and Penderyn Madeira.
A number of tasting events and workshops will educate and allow guests to explore both classic and lesser-known brands. Punters can pop by The Philharmonic Dining Rooms and join brand ambassadors from Scotland’s Copper Dog for some tasting sessions.
The food menu includes traditional Scottish favourites such as Scotch broth with farmhouse bread and butter, haggis, neeps and tatties and pulled lamb Crofters’ pie topped with haggis mash – all finished off with a traditional Cranachan, made with whipped cream, honey, raspberries, toasted oats and a dash of whisky.
Guests will also be treated to a complimentary dram of the new Glenfiddich IPA whisky, to help toast to the man of the moment. Those after even more of a tartan-fuelled treat can add on a tailored whisky flight, featuring Laphroaig 10yr, Auchentoshan 12yr and The Macallan Gold. To book, visit www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk/burnsnightmenu.
Philharmonic Dining Rooms, 36 Hope Street, Liverpool, L1 9BX, 0151 707 2837