Whether you’re a devoted Scot, a curious Sassenach (that’s English folk to those not familiar with Gaelic) or other; the annual celebration of Scotland’s national poet on 25 January is the perfect excuse to knock back a wee dram of whisky.
Here’s our pick of what to sup on and savour this year. Serving suggestion: with neeps and tatties (get googling), soundtracked by bagpipes.
Aberlour A’bunadh Single Malt Whisky
Whisky connoisseurs have three requirements: it should be made by hand, it should come from a small batch and it should have a sense of history. This single malt ticks all the boxes.
In 1975, workmen discovered a bottle of Aberlour from 1898 hidden in the distillery’s walls. The A’bunadh pays tribute to the original style, with a rich, distinctive taste that can only have been finessed over a century of traditional production.
The tipple works particularly well with haggis thanks to its ageing process in sherry butts, which helps to cut through the spice.
Available at thewhiskyexchange.co.uk, priced £49.95.
Tour Of Scotland Whisky Gift Set
Don’t know your malts from your grains? This set, which brings together whiskies from across Scotland, is for you.
It contains Talisker from the Islands, Lagavulin from Islay, Auchentoshan from the lowlands, Glenfiddich from Speyside and Glemorangie Signet from the highlands, as well as tasting notes and a proper whisky glass to sip from.
So even if you don’t become a whisky expert, you’ll probably be too pie-eyed to care.
Available at thewhiskyexchange.co.uk, priced £64.95.
Royal Salute 32-Year-Old ‘Union Of The Crowns’
Whisky is here to bring our divided nation back together (maybe). Inspired by King James VI who united England, Scotland and Ireland under one crown in 1603, each of the single malts in this blend have individual features that come together perfectly.
We’re not sure what patriot Robbie would have to say about this, but it’s a stylish way to toast to a kingdom nonetheless.
Available at WorldDutyFree.co.uk, priced approx £350.
If you’re looking for an accessible water of life to toast to the alternative Bard with, you can’t go wrong with Ballantine’s Finest.
The best-selling scotch on the continent, it’s blended with malt and grain whiskies to create a creamy, oaky sweetness, based on a traditional recipe from 1827. And you can find it in the supermarket, win-win.
Available at Sainsburys, priced £22.
Gelupo Whisky Gelato And Cold Toddy Sorbet
Held out this far for dry January? Don’t let the whisky mist get you. If you’re in stumbling distance from London, swap the dram for the cone and head to Gelupo.
The gelato might be pushing the boundaries of your no-booze rule, as it’s made from actual single malt, but the Cold Toddy Sorbet is perfect for a sober Address to Haggis, if you can keep a straight face (and stop it melting).
Available at Gelupo, 7 Archer St, Soho, London, W1D 7AU.
The Ploughman Poet, as he was also called, was known to plough through more than just whisky. Rum, brandy, ale, port – it was all fair game, which is good news for anyone who doesn’t like the golden nectar.
Ogilvy Potato Vodka
Celebrate with one of Scotland’s other spirited exports, like Ogilvy Potato Vodka. Made in Angus by the Jarron family a stone’s throw from Glamis Castle, it’s Scotland’s first potato vodka and perfect for making a Burns Night-inspired cocktail.
Available at The Whiskey Exchange, priced £34.95.
Bellfield Brewery Beers
Scotland might not seem like the natural home of the UK’s first dedicated gluten-free brewery, but in Edinburgh, Bellfield are producing small-batch, traditional beers that make a great alternative Burns’ tipple. And despite being coeliac-friendly and vegan, both the Pilsner and IPA still taste great – Rabbie would be proud.
Available at Bellfield Brewery, priced £24.95 for 12.