We were meant to announce the winner of ourBurns Night poetry competition onBurns Night itself, Monday 25 January, but we were so inundated with entries of such a high standard that it took a bit longer to come to a decision. But finally, after much discussion, we are delighted to announce that the winner is……
Rabbie Burns the toast. He burns the tatties as well, There ne’er was a clumsier man Than Rabbie Burns hi’sel
Rabbie Burns the toast. He forgot tae turn it o’er, It’s a blackened on the one side, And there’s melted butter all o’er.
Rabbie burns the toast. He’s scorched it all tae hell, Distracted by yon po-yums That dinnae ring a bell!
Rabbie, man, what have ye done? Ye’ve wasted all the lard, This kind ay thing cannae stand Even if you are “the Bard”.
Ye had one job, Rabbie, Tae make the toast for me, Instead ye’ve wrote a poyum For everyone to see!
I guess I can forgive ye, You really are the most Making all the country proud: “Tae Rabbie Burns, a toast!”
And here’s what you’ve won!
As we said, the standard was extremely high this year and it was a difficult choice so we’ve also picked five runners up who will all receive drams. They are: Andrew Douglas, Emma Whiteman, Dave Cox, Alex Ball and Glen Sewell. You can read their entries below.
We want to say a big thank you to everyone who entered. This year there were so many funny entries, some of them extremely rude. We had great fun judging the contest. It cheered us right up. In fact, someone in-house had the idea of publishing a Master of Malt Burns Night poetry book. Watch this space! Now here are those runners-up, in no particular order:
Sipping memories Of camping with my father When his boots caught fire
I am home schooling My kids are aged eight and six I require whisky
Now here begins a relationship between poetry and whisky, A competition entry that will always be a risk, see when you start talking about the water of life, you may oft end up conversing about a Scottish poets life.
But not everyone will understand the words that he wrote, A “Wee tim’rous beastie” could easily be a stoat. “The best laid schemes Gang aft a-gley” can leave us pondering ‘what’s that you say?’
One one things for certain – his love for his terroir So much so that folk come from near and a-far To breath in the air, albeit quite brisk, he draws people in, where they can sample the whisky.
Burns’ ink reacts to paper like whisky inside a cask, Both interactions with wood leaving impressions that last. His words cause confusion, adrenalin and pain, Like high whiskybase scores on Haig Club Single Grain.
Like Burns’ poetry, whisky is art, years of perfecting with head and with heart, A journey that starts with indeterminate end, And distillers wondering what SWA rules they can bend.
But one things for certain this liquid will stay That’s something that 2020 cant take away Like Burns’ poetry, whisky will always stand strong with a delightful palate, and a finish that’s long.
Of drams and drizzle:
Pile through the door, quick get it shut!
Peel off your coats, dodge the shaking black mutt.
O’er to the cabinet, a bottle, some glasses,
and turn to the fire to warm your numbed arses.
Oot there the wind shrieks, the glens fall to gloom,
in here the cork squeaks, your rising perfume.
The rain sweeps the mountains, the streams they do swell,
of fruit cakes and seaweed, all troubles you quell.
Inky black shorelines, fierce seas without master,
the tinkling of crystal, soft light and bright laughter.
N’er mind the damp wool, chilled bone and sinew,
your heat it pervades, sets the soul anew.
You grow sage o’er eons, as mountains do too,
and of a joint genesis – lo’, who knew?
For your warmth it hides your true nature from me –
after all you are born of dark peat and wild sea.
Aye, whisky wid cure the covid,
But then, Rabbie wid say that ye ken
He, best of all the poet’s knew
Whisky fires the heart o menThe amber nectar shines the eye
Can melt the ire o beast
Ane glass o it is held
To be grander than a feastIf ony, men o politics
Wid huddle roond a glass
Then all the strife in a the world
Wid vanish and wid passIf all the sodjers laid aside their arms
And drank a health instead
There,d be no wars nor civil strife
And name Maer bombs tae dreadSae whisky, heres guid health tae ye
Lang may your glory shine
Ye may not cure the covid
But you’re better than all wine.
Just in case you thought you wouldn’t be getting your usual yearly dose of whisky, haggis and poetry, don’t worry, like everything these days, it’s now taking place online. Here…
Just in case you thought you wouldn’t be getting your usual yearly dose of whisky, haggis and poetry, don’t worry, like everything these days, it’s now taking place online. Here are some of the best virtual Burns Nights out there.
Burns Night 2021 is on Monday 25 January. Evenings celebrating Scotland’s bard are now international, apparently the Phoenicia Hotel in Beirut normally puts on a particularly lavish one, but this year most of us will be stuck at home.
If you thought, however, you were going to be sitting on your own with a microwave haggis and a copy of the Collected Poems of Robert Burns, then think again. A number of restaurants, bars, shops and distillers are putting on virtual Burns Nights this year. These range from the complete package where you get everything including a haggis (best order as soon as possible) to music events where you bring your own whisky (like these ones, perhaps?)
As you might expect from the name of the proprietor, Ranald MacDanald, Boisdale in London is doing things properly with its Burns Night supper. From 7.30pm on Monday, there will be a piper, Donald Maclaren of clan Maclaren, no less, music from Tallia Storm, a whisky tasting with Mark Tracey from LVMH, and James Cosmo star of Highlander and Braveheart will address the Haggis (fearsomely, we presume). Plus, there are three dining options, all complete with a Rob Roy cocktail and drams of Glenmorangie and Ardbeg. All from the comfort of your own home! Order now to make sure you get your package in time. Go to Boisdale’s website for more information.
Macsween Haggis Burns Night
Well, it wouldn’t be Burns Night without a haggis, the Great chieftain o’ the pudding race, as Burns put it. So you won’t be surprised to hear that Scotland’s best-known haggis makers Macsween will be hosting a Burns Night event on its Facebook page from 7pm on Monday 25 January. James Mcsween commented: “We didn’t want anyone to miss out because of the times we live in. That’s why we are inviting people from across the world to join Macsween with Karen Dunbar, who is a stand out favourite at Burns Suppers, and the trailblazing master blender Dr Rachel Barrie from Benriach distillery.” The event is free, you’ll have to bring your own food and drink but there’s still plenty of time to order your haggis and some Benriach whisky from Master of Malt.
Luvians Lockdown – Burns Night Drams
St. Andrews’ premier whisky shop is putting on an online tasting from 7pm on Monday (cut off date for shipping is 21 January). To take part, pick up a £30 tasting kit consisting of six 20ml drams from distilleries that were operation in Burns’ lifetime including Glenturret, Bowmore, Strathisla, Balblair, Oban and, controversially, Glen Garioch. “This year we are celebrating Burn’s Night with a trio of tastings celebrating the Best of Scotland. What else could we do on the big night itself than whisky,” it says. On the night there will be a zoom tasting with Archie McDiarmid from Luvians, and possibly, we’re told, some poetry. Go to the Facebook page to find out more.
Celebrate Burns Night With Glasgow Distillery, Virtually
Glasgow Distillery, the first malt distillery in the city for over 100 years, is teaming up with Once Upon a Whisky to put on not one but three Burns Night events on 21, 25 and 28 January. Buy a ticket and you will get to taste five whiskies from the distillery, four single malts and a blended malt, and, according to the website, “recount some stories and facts regarding the artistic life of Robert Burns and toast to one of the most renowned Scottish personalities.” Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Go to the Facebook page for more information.
Big Burns Night In
Taking place on Saturday 23 January at 7pm, this one is all about the music. It’s hosted by Edith Bowman and features music from an amazing array of musicians including Talisk (we’d wager they’re fans of Isle of Skye single malts), Iona Lee, Lennie Pennie, and, speakers Gerry Curruthers and Chris Waddell (not to be confused with legendary England footballer and mullet owner Chris Waddle). There will also be a cocktail masterclass from Anna Mitchell from Glenlivet. Tickets available here, you’ll have to provide your own whisky, and haggis.
Make the perfect whisky sauce with Dewar’s
So you’ve bought the haggis, brushed up on your Burns and you’ve ordered whisky, now in conjunction with Dewar’s, head chef and owner of Ballintaggart Chris Rowley will show you how to make the perfect whisky sauce this Burns Night. The recipe includes shallots, garlic, double cream, wholegrain and Dijon mustard, chives, lemon juice and, of course, whisky. Taking place on Monday 25 January on Facebook Live the event will include brand ambassador Gary Ross talking you through Dewar’s 12 Year Old, Craigellachie 13 and Aberfeldy 16. All of which can still, as of 22 January, be ordered in time for Burns Night from Master of Malt.
Don’t miss out on your celebrations just because of the lockdown. You can still pick yourself a bottle of delicious Scotch whisky and toast Scotland’s favourite son in style. The…
Don’t miss out on your celebrations just because of the lockdown. You can still pick yourself a bottle of delicious Scotch whisky and toast Scotland’s favourite son in style.
The 25 January is the birthday of the great Scottish poet Robert Burns and usually at this time people around the world mark it with an extravagant affair of food, music and malt. Burns Night this year, however, is taking place smack bang in the middle of a lockdown. So, we’re going to have to do things a little differently.
That doesn’t mean we can’t have a brilliant time of feasting and festivities. There’s going to be a raft of virtual celebrations we can get involved in and there’s nothing stopping you from donning a kilt, picking up some haggis and ensuring you’ve got some tasty Scotch whisky to enjoy. That’s why we’ve put together this list of some delightful expressions perfect for a long night of drinking, dancing and entertainment.
Drinking any Scotch whisky on Burns Night is a fitting way to celebrate the man himself. But, picking yourself up a bottle that bears his name? Now we’re talking. The Robert Burns Single Malt was produced by the Isle of Arran Distillers, who are patrons of the ‘Robert Burns World Federation’. So you can be sure this beauty was made with true reverence for the Bard.
What does it taste like?
Pear juice, coconut, custard, vanilla, panna cotta, lime peel, apple strudel and cinnamon.
If you’ve tasted Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire, you’ll already know it’s brilliant. But the clever clogs behind this cracking Islay single malt have taken things up a notch. How? By bottling the whisky at a cask strength 57.5% ABV. This is a Burns Night dram for those who really love their complex and smoky Islay whiskies.
What does it taste like?
Strong sea breeze, roasted barley, grounded by flame raisins, red apples, earthy peat, sherried richness, strong coffee with a dash of milk, charred oak and a flash of spicy yet fruity red pepper flake.
There are few better bang-for-your-buck whiskies than this classic Island dram from the Isle of Skye. Talisker 10 Year Old is one of those expressions that has a place in the heart of all whisky fans. Its versatile profile means it’s great neat, in cocktails and when paired with food, making it ideal if you’d like to enjoy your Scotch in different ways on the night.
What does it taste like?
Smoke, sweet pear and apple peels, maritime salt, seaweed, peat, black pepper, brine and dry barley.
One for fans of sherry bombs. This 8-year-old single malt Scotch whisky was matured initially in ex-bourbon barrels before being moved into tiny, custom-made Oloroso sherry octave casks for at least three months. When you use smaller casks you increase the intensity of wood’s influence on your spirit. And when you have beautiful hand-coopered sherry casks, this leads to most excellent results.
What does it taste like?
Candied orange peels, chocolate peanuts, cooking spice warmth, dried cherry, Amaretti biscuits, subtly toasty hints, powerful raisin and prune, just a touch of earthy oak lingers.
There’s plenty of mystery about this dram. From its intriguing name (it’s an anagram, see if you can figure it out…) to the fact it’s sourced from an undisclosed distillery on Islay. But, one thing we know for sure is that it’s damn tasty. An approachable introduction to Scotland’s most distinctive collection of distilleries, Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old captures the true taste of Islay with its smoky, sweet and maritime profile.
What does it taste like?
Maritime peat, iodine, honey sweetness, paprika, salted caramel, old bookshelves, mint dark chocolate, espresso, new leather, honey, liquorice allsorts, bonfire smoke and toffee penny, with a pinch of salt.
There’s no better way to familiarise yourself with the wonderful world of Scotch whisky than this tasting set. The ultimate introduction to the famed whisky regions of Scotland, Islay, the Highlands, the Lowlands, Speyside and Campbeltown, this creation from Drinks by the Dram contains five 30ml samples of deliciousness. Which means there’s sure to be something you love inside. Why have one Burns Night dram, when you can have five?
It’s type to sharpen your pencils because our great Burns Night poetry competition is back by popular demand. You could win two delicious bottles of Islay single malt, plus a…
It’s type to sharpen your pencils because our great Burns Night poetry competition is back by popular demand. You could win two delicious bottles of Islay single malt, plus a Glencairn glass.
UPDATE: We’ve been inundated with entries and will announce the winner ASAP once each work of poetic genius has been subject to due consideration.
For the third year running we are calling on Master of Malt customers to flex their poetry muscles for a chance to win whisky. When we launched the competition back in 2019, we thought maybe we’d get 10 entries. Instead we got many times that and the quality was surprisingly high. Just take a look at the winning entries from 2019 and 2020.
All you have to do is compose a poem about whisky. We had some Ossian-esque epics last year so we’re limiting entries to 25 lines. All poems must be in English or Scots. Apart from those rules, let your imagination run wild: you can write a haiku, a sonnet or maybe something experimental a la E.E. Cummings. Poems will be judged by the discerning team here at Master of Malt. There’s at least one second class English degree from a redbrick university among us, so we know what we’re doing. Before you set pen to paper, we’ll offer you a couple of tips: try to be amusing, if we have to read 50 poems, we are going to remember the ones that made us laugh; if you can’t make us laugh, make us cry; please don’t rhyme ‘whisky’ with ‘frisky’, it’s an automatic disqualification.
The 2021 MoM Burns Night poetry competition is open to entrants 18 years and over with postage to UK addresses only. Entries accepted from 12:00 GMT on 13 January to 23:59 GMT 21 January 2021. Full T&Cs are below, but to enter simply email us at [email protected], or comment on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or below with your poem by 21 January. The winner will be announced on Burns Night, 25 January.
Good luck and may the muse be with you.
View Full Terms and Conditions.
MoM Burn’s Night Poetry Competition 2021 T&Cs
THE PROMOTER: The promoter is Atom Supplies Limited (company register number 03193057), trading as Master of Malt (MoM) and having its registered office at Unit 1 Ton Business Park, 2-8 Morley Road, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 1RA, United Kingdom.
ELIGIBILITY: This competition is only open to individuals who are 18 years or older and resident of the United Kingdom. Ineligible entries (howsoever received) will be discarded. The competition is not open to any employees (and their immediate family) of the promoter or any of its associated companies. MoM reserves the right to verify the validity of entries and entrants (including an entrant’s identity, age and place of residence) at any time and reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who, or any entry which, it believes has breached any of these terms, tampered with the entry process or engaged in any unlawful or improper conduct which may undermine the fair and proper conduct of this competition.
ENTRY/COMPETITION PERIOD: This competition opens at 12:00:01 GMT on 13 January 2021 and closes at 23:59:59 GMT on 21 January 2021.
HOW TO ENTER:To enter, individuals must do the following within the entry period:submit an original poem (maximum of 25 lines) inspired by whisky in the comment section on the relevant social media post on MoM’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page, blog post, or by emailing the poem directly at [email protected], or via post to the above address for the attention of the “MoM marketing team”. Multiple entries (with a different poem each time obviously) are permitted, encouraged, even! No purchase is necessary, and no payment is required to participate in the competition or to claim the prize.
WINNER: MoM will choose 1 winner with the best poem submitted from all qualifying entries. The selection of the winner will be at MoM’s absolute discretion and will be final. No correspondence or discussion will be entered into.
UK SHIPPING ONLY: The prize can only be delivered to a valid United Kingdom address provided by the winner.
CLAIMING THE PRIZE:The name of the winner (and/or along with their social media channel username or handle where applicable) will be announced on MoM’s blog and/or MoM social media channelsas soon as practicable after the competition period. MoM will make reasonable efforts to contact the winner via Direct Message as soon as practicable after the competition period. If the winner cannot be contacted or is not available or has not claimed the prize within 5 days of MoM contacting them, MoM reserves the right to offer the prize to another eligible entrant. MoM cannot accept any responsibility if the winner is unable to take up the prize or fails to claim the prize within the time limit as set out above.
ORIGINAL AND SENSIBLE ENTRY CONTENT ONLY: Let’s be sensible, people. By submitting content to or via our social channels which we are running the competition on, you agree to only submit original material and content that comply with our Acceptable Use Policy. By entering this competition, entrants warrant and undertake that their entry does not infringe any third party rights. Entrants agree to indemnify the promoter from and against any and all third party claims or liabilities relating to or arising out of the content submitted by them or their breach of any of these terms. Any material which is in breach of our Acceptable Use Policy, which depicts, describes, encourages, endorses or normalises the excessive consumption of alcohol, the consumption of alcohol by those under the age of 25, anti-social behaviour (including any criminal activity) or irresponsible drinking (including rapid drinking), which links the consumption of alcohol with popularity or other social success, bravado, technical skill, good fortune, the operation of vehicles or other machinery or therapeutic benefits, or which depicts the consumption of alcohol whilst potentially dangerous activities are being undertaken will be disqualified. MoM reserves the right to hold void, suspend, cancel or amend the competition where it becomes necessary to do so. If there is any reason to believe that there has been a breach of these terms or any attempt to circumvent or to frustrate them, MoM may, in our sole discretion, exclude any person from participating in the competition.
ENTRY OWNERSHIP:By entering this competition, entrants agree that all right, title and interest in their entries will belong absolutely to the promoter. Entrants agree to irrevocably assign with full title guarantee and free from all third party rights, all intellectual property rights in and to any content s submitted with their entry. MoM shall have the right to use, exploit, adapt and edit any content submitted (or part thereof) throughout the universe in perpetuity. By entering this competition, entrants waive all moral rights which they are or become entitled to under Chapter IV of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (or any similar right or entitlement anywhere in the world). Entrants agree to sign any additional documentation which may be required to give effect to this paragraph.
LIMITATION OF LIABILITY:Insofar as is permitted by law, the promoter, its agents, employees, and/or representatives shall in no circumstances be responsible or liable to compensate any entrant who participates in the competition and/or the winner who claim(s) the prize for any loss, damage, personal injury or death whatsoever and howsoever caused, whether in contract, tort (including negligence), breach of statutory duty, or otherwise, for any direct, indirect or consequential losses arising out of or in connection with their participation in this competition, any failure or delays or postponements or cancellations in making the appropriate travel and accommodation arrangements as a result of the winner (including in relation to their guests) taking up the prize (where applicable), except where it is caused by the negligence of the promoter, its agents, employees, and/or authorised representatives. competition entrants’ statutory rights are not affected.
GENERAL: MoM confirms that this competition is not sponsored or endorsed by the social media platform identified herein and said social media platform is in no way affiliated to or associated with MoM. By entering this competition, users agree to release that social media channel from any and all liability related to this competition. These terms shall be governed by English law, and the parties submit to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
The judges have consulted, conferred, and, finally, concurred. So, we are delighted to announce the winner of our Burns Night competition who will receive a bottle of Aerolite Lyndsay Islay…
The judges have consulted, conferred, and, finally, concurred. So, we are delighted to announce the winner of our Burns Night competition who will receive a bottle of Aerolite Lyndsay Islay single malt.
When we launched our poetry competition last year, we didn’t know what to expect. Would anyone enter? Would the entries be any good? Well, we need not have worried as clearly Master of Malt customers are a talented bunch. This year we had over 52 entries from all over the world. Admittedly, there were some stinkers, some that were, how can we put this, not suitable for a family audience, and many that rhymed whisky with frisky. But there were also plenty of top quality stuff.
But what would Rabbie think?
So, without further ado, it’s time to announce the winner. It’s Neil Mackenzie! Readers may remember him from last year where he was one of the runners-up. Well, now he’s only gone and snatched the winner’s crown with a Scots ode to whisky makers. Metaphorically speaking that is, there is no actual winner’s crown, but he will win a bottle of Aerolite Lyndsay Islay single malt.
Runners up were: Anne Greengrass, Kyle Kenneth Moonsamy and Laurence Smith. Congratulations, you all win a dram of the Aerolite. The winning entry and runners-up are below. Thank you to everyone for taking part. The competition will be back next year so there’s plenty of time to practise your scansion.
The winning entry:
The Greatest O’ Folk
Each nation has her ain great folk, That freed her frae oppressors yoke, Or brichtened monie a dull heart, Wae great inventions, words an’ art, Mozart and Bach wae papers strewn, Ha’e jotted monie a gallant tune, All Socrates and Plato thought, Were gifts to they wha knowledge sought, Rembrandt and Monet wae sure hand, Captured the charms o’ sky an’ land, Alexander earned the title “Great”, Lang ‘fore he took the Persian gate, Ev’n Scotia’s humble shores sae braw, Whan threatened wae her ain downfa’, By tyrants that wid her ensnare, Rais’d up mair than her fair share, The Black Douglas wae Bruce and Wallace, Won our battered land brief solace, Tho’ fac’d wae pay’n’ that highest price, They hearkened not tae fears advice, Said folk, their tales, whan heard, impart, Sic inspiration tae my heart, The words come streaming frae my pen, Verse upon verse time an’ again, But yet, I trow, truly I speak, Wae tongue firmly away frae cheek, That nane o’ them the boots could fill, Of those wha gi’e their time and skill, Tae fill my glass wae somethin’ proper, Born of barley, oak and copper.
Islay malt so warm, Shields me from the winter’s chill. One more for the road?
Islay – A Malty Sonnet
This wind-wracked isle of seaweed salt and storm, Of treeless boggy mire beneath oor feet, Has ay kent how tae keep a biddy warm, By hernessin’ the glory o’ the peat.
When next ye raise a dram tae toast the bard, Think lang on Islay’s place in Alba’s past, This land o’ smoke and smugglers unco hard, Whaur drouthy neebors brav’d th’Atlantic blast.
Whaur bogles creepit in thru ev’ry door, And Hebridean kelpies their weans steal, Their best defence? Ben Bracken or Bowmore, Laphroaig or bold Ardbeg to quate the deil.
Yet sic auld-fashioned drams upon Burns nicht Are far oot-stripped by Lyndsey Aerolicht!
The sky is black, no star in sight, Oh what a beautiful rainfall night, I sit all by myself contemplating my life… Am I really doing what’s right for me, Or am I just going with what the flow of life wants me to be, I walk to my cupboard and pull out a bottle, Pour myself a dram I guess I’ll make it a double, Out on the porch I throw myself on a chair, Breathing in the smell of rain that so sweetly scents the air, I lift up my glass and there swirls a light golden elixir, Amazing to think water, yeast and barley can make such a beautiful mixture, But it’s not just the ingredients that are in here, It’s the type of cask as well as the year, So I bring the glass slowly up to my nose, Vanilla, Citrus and Mint begin to show causing my eagerness for a taste to grow, I take a sip and try to pick out every detail, And thereafter swallowing with a gentle exhale, Lemon cake, Vanilla, Apples and Pears, beautifully balanced and so smooth, As my chest starts to warm from that magnificent prelude, I lift up my glass once more to the night, Sip number two goes down as I think of what to write, Whiskey to me is more than just alcohol, The way people look at it as if it’s going to be my downfall, I believe it improves you as a man because you truly have to take your time, And that’s a brilliant virtue in this world because of how life just flies by, So for one final time I lift up my glass to the reader of this poem, A toast to you good Sir, may you never drink alone. 🥃Sláinte!
Need a break from practising your Burns Night speech? Tune into The Nightcap, your weekly source of bite-sized booze news! We sell whisky here at Master of Malt. That shouldn’t…
Need a break from practising your Burns Night speech? Tune into The Nightcap, your weekly source of bite-sized booze news!
We sell whisky here at Master of Malt. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. As such, it also should not be a surprise that we quite enjoy said spirit. A third thing that shouldn’t be a surprise is that Burns Night is happening this weekend – that one shouldn’t be a surprise because we’ve been nattering about it for a little while now, along with everyone else that has an affinity for whisky. If you’re in the same boat and heading to a Burns Night celebration, pack that brain full of booze news in case small talk situations arise between bursts of poetry and toasts.
On the blog this week we turned our attention to all things Burns Night, unsurprisingly, rounding-up some sensational Scotch to enjoy on the night, enjoying a Bobby Burns and reminiscing about the worst Burns Night celebrations ever, all while enjoying your poetic entries to our Burns Night competition… Thank you to all who entered, the competition is now closed and the winner will be announced on Monday!
So, what are you waiting for? There’s boozy news to enjoy!
Hidden haggis, bingo, London’s first whisky wall and more. It’s must be Burns Night!
Burns Night celebrations in full flow this week
With Burns Night tomorrow, there has been a raft of events this week in celebration, as you can imagine. But plenty are forgoing the tradition to mark the day in all kinds of wacky ways, such as The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), who are planning to hide 18 mini haggises around Glasgow city centre in celebration of their new Members’ Room opening on Bath Street in March 2020. The lucky folk who find them have a chance to win an annual membership to the Society, SMWS bottles or tasting glasses. DrinkUp London, meanwhile, is offering all kinds of deals for its Scotch Whisky Weekend, while still finding time to host BenRiach’s ‘painting by tasting notes’ workshop with landscape artist Ellis O’Connor and master blender Rachel Barrie, in which you can create your own artwork inspired by tasting notes. A night full of bingo shenanigans from Bobby’s Burns Bingo awaits those who go to New York bodega-inspired bar Liquorette, which is celebrating Burns Night with an American twist with Chivas global brand ambassador Rhys Wilson. He will be calling the numbers and handing out the prizes ranging from Chivas 12 and 18 year old bottles, home whisky blending kits, nights out at Liquorette and tickets to Chivas Blend experience. London’s oldest whisky specialist Milroy’s is doing its own more traditional Burns Night in Spitalfields tonight with complimentary drinks thanks to Crabbie Whisky alongside haggis, poetry and music. One event we know for sure was a success was Mac & Wild’s Burns Warm Up Party with Copper Dog last night, which featured live entertainment, masterclasses, London’s first whisky wall, Bone Marrow Whisky Luge experiences and all kinds of tasty Scottish street food. Oh, and Paul Young has been making signature Burns Night chocolate in collaboration withGlen Moray(we can vouch for its deliciousness), proving that chocolate belongs at every occasion. It’s great to see so many so keen to toast Scotland’s national bard. Slange var!
This could be yours. For free. No, really.
Silk Road Distillers is giving away free rum
This is not a drill. It’s not a scam. There are no pirates involved in this rum, folks. No, free samples of rum (excluding post and package) can truly be yours thanks to the marketing initiative of a startup rum brand in London. Silk Road Distillers is backing 2020 to be the year of rum (it’s not alone) and the spirit producers are so keen to show off their new creation that they are charging absolutely nothing (excluding post and package) for the pleasure. This isn’t any ordinary rum, no. The sample you’ll receive is full of white spiced rum. A white rum that was infused with six botanicals. It truly is a brave new world. “2020 is going to be all about rum, and we can’t wait to be a part of it”, says George Agate, founder of Silk Road Distillers, “We’re hoping to get loads of samples out for Try-January, and we know once someone tries it, it will be their go-to drink for the year”. Silk Road Distillers also wants you to ditch Rum and Coke for this one and instead try out a Rum and Tonic, which admittedly is an often overlooked serve. Each 50ml is only available until the end of the month, 31st January 2020 from here. Now get ordering!
A section of bookcase opens to reveal this secret bar, James Bond villain-style.
‘Secret’ bar opens in Great Scotland Yard Hotel
When we turned up, rather late, it has to be said, for the launch of a new bar at the Great Scotland Yard Hotel, we were a little confused as there was nobody to be seen. Maybe, we’d got the wrong day. All became clear, however, when the bartender from the hotel’s other bar, 40 Elephants, pressed discreet button and, James Bond villain-style, a section of bookcase opened to reveal a secret bar. It’s called Sibín, as in an Irish drinking den (sometimes spelt shebeen). The drinks menu takes a turn for the unexpected too with old classics given a tune-up. The Rusty Nail is made with two types of Talisker and Drambuie is left to oxidise for two days to mellow. Bars manager Michal Mariarz adds a little PX to his Smokey Cokey, Lagavulin 16 year old and Coke. Most innovative of all was bartender Alex Williams’ concoction, the Clear Conscience. Based on that old classic the Grasshopper, it’s made with poitin, Branca Menta and all kinds of scientific stuff to make something that smells just like a Matchmaker mint. For the more classically-inclined there are unusual whiskies like a 2005 Caol Ila part-matured in Hermitage red wine casks. The hotel located just off Trafalgar Square and housed in the former HQ of the Metropolitan Police, opened last year and already feels like a classic venue.
Record number of ‘visitations’ at Buffalo Trace
Whiskey tourism in Kentucky is now a big thing: Buffalo Trace has just released figures that show that 294,996 people visited the distillery last year, 35% up on last year and a massive 466% up on 2010. The press release describes it as a “record-breaking visitation streak” which makes it sound like Kentucky has had an unusual number of divine interventions. All these visitors (divine or otherwise) have come during a $1.2 billion investment scheme. Yes, you read the right. 1.2 billion dollars. This includes a new visitor (or should that be visitation) centre, 22 foot (6.7 metres) cookers that required raising the roof of the mash house, four 92,000 gallon (420,000 litre) fermenters, a new cooling tower and six new warehouses which each hold 58,800 barrels. That’s a lot of bourbon. There’s even a special ‘hard hat’ tour so that you can see the work being done. “The growth we are seeing in all aspects of the distillery is really exciting,” Meredith Moody, director of homeplace development said. “We are eager to show all of our distilling upgrades to new and returning guests on our updated Hard Hat Tour. It’s a whole new experience, whether you are a first time visitor or have toured many times.” Oh, and talking of Buffalo Trace, it’s almost time for our annual parcel of Antique Collection rare bourbons from the distillery to arrive. Watch this space.
The fantastic Passport menu takes you to all corners of the world
We taste St James Bar new Passport cocktail menu
It’s around about that point in January that we all start getting a bit of wanderlust around MoM Towers. It’s rainy, it’s cold, and suddenly I’m having to resist the urge to book a holiday somewhere. Our wanderlust dreams were answered when we heard about the new Passport menu at St James Bar, Sofitel St James, so we headed over to try it out. The idea is to take you on a journey, and the menu looks like an actual British passport (for now…) boasting 12 cocktails from 12 different countries. We started, appropriately with a 5 to 7, a beautifully balanced bitter aperitif straight from Italy made with Campari-infused coffee, presented in a cafetière. Where would you like to go next, bar manager Kostas Bardas asked us. America! The Maker’s Mark and sherry-based cocktail, 1st Step, comes in a smoking rocketship. How could we not?! Then, to Thailand, where we tried Megong, a blend of Mekhong Thai Spirit, rum and Earl Grey presented alongside a mini gong. Heaven Howler was a tribute to Iceland’s Prohibition period from 1915 to 1989, a unique marriage of Himbrimi Old Tom, Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength, homemade rhubarb and thyme liqueur, pale ale and beer soda. We certainly wouldn’t mind sipping this refreshing serve in a geothermal spring… Then, on recommendation from quite literally everyone behind the bar, we tried the Victory Martini, inspired by Winston Churchill. Well, we are in London after all. A sophisticated blend of Plymouth Gin, Cognac and a brilliant homemade pine honey and wine leaf cordial made this little number outrageously easy to drink. The brilliantly conceived and engaging Passport menu took us to all corners of the world, though all from the luxurious blue plush interior of the bar. Bon voyage!
I’ve never been so proud of the Brits before. Well in, guys.
British drinking more beer despite Dry January claims Wowcher
You may have noticed that it has become popular in the last few years to give up alcohol in January, a bit like a Lenten fast but without the Christianity. With all the noise in the media about Dry January, you might think that alcohol sales would be seriously affected but, according to figures just released by Wowcher, the discount voucher people, this is not the case. In fact, there has been a 71% increase in beer sales compared with January 2019. It has to be said, that this is based only on data from Wowcher’s website and app so could hardly be described as definitive. Nevertheless, it does seem to suggest that even with all the newspaper articles, TV segments, advertising and general media hubbub, Dry January is still very much a minority pursuit. Britons, never change.
It’s a fine donation to a good cause.
Diageo rolls out the barrel for Scottish Rugby charity
Diageo has announced that it donated a cask of Scotch whisky to raise money for Doddie Weir’s My Name’5 Doddie Foundation to find a cure for MND. The rugby legend and inspirational Motor Neuron Disease campaigner Doddie Weir visited the brand’s new Scottish headquarters in Edinburgh on Monday 20 January to accept the donation. This is also marked the official opening of the offices and reaffirmed Diageo’s support for Scottish Rugby ahead of the forthcoming Six Nations, which will be the first to feature Johnnie Walker as Scottish Rugby’s official whisky partner. “Doddie Weir is an inspiration to people everywhere with the remarkable bravery of his campaign. It was a privilege to welcome him to our new offices and to share his incredible campaign with our people,” said Ewan Andrew, president of global supply & procurement at Diageo. “We have a powerful connection with rugby through our Guinness Title Partnership of the Six Nations Championship and our Johnnie Walker partnership with Scottish Rugby. What better way to celebrate these partnerships and to mark our move to our new office than by supporting Doddie and his campaign.” Doddie Weir added: “I am delighted to accept the donation of this cask of Glenkinchie single malt whisky for my foundation. The momentum behind the campaign keeps growing and it’s terrific to see companies like Diageo and brands like Johnnie Walker stepping up to show their support and to raise funds.” Diageo will now work with the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation team to select a cask of Glenkinchie single malt and to have it bottled for the charity. We wish all involved the best luck in fighting for this fantastic cause.
The Big Drop Brewing founders are hoping to raise a pretty penny
Big Drop Brewing Co. launches crowdfunding for major expansion
Launched in London in 2016, Big Drop Brewing Co. is shaking up the alcohol-free beer game as one of the very few totally dedicated alcohol-free brewers. In its portfolio, you’ll find stout, pale ale, IPA, lager and other brews, along with a range of gluten free and vegan beers too. For its brews, Big Drop uses a method which removes the need to extract alcohol after fermentation, which is often what affects the taste and mouthfeel of alcohol-free beer. It’s launching a crowdfunding campaign in February, and investors will become a part of the company as well as receiving a few perks alongside, from brand merch to a day with the master brewer. The perks get better depending on how much more you’re willing to invest, of course. The point of the crowdfund is to help it expand into markets outside the UK, as well as within its home country. “We knew there were a lot of people who felt exactly the same way as we did,” says co-founder Rob Fink. “We realised we could create not just the beer we wanted, but a community of like-minded people too. What if we could do for alcohol-free beer what the craft beer revolution had done for, well, beer?” Well, if you want to find out and want a piece of the action, then head over to the site!
The 2020 Tap Takeovers at the Tate will feature the likes of Cloudwater Brew Co., Tiny Rebel and more.
Tap Takeovers at the Tate
Lovers of contemporary art, good beer and alliteration are in for a treat as the latest Tap Takeovers at the Tate have just been announced. These consist of an evening at the Tate Modern in London devoted to a particular brewery. The first event on 30 January features Manchester’s very own Cloudwater Brew Co. with its delicious range of beers including a mighty 8.5% ABV Double IPA. And don’t worry if you don’t like beer or alcohol, as the brewery produces a range of zero ABV sodas. Be warned, though, you can’t just turn up and have access to delicious brews, that would be too easy, you need to book in advance here. Tap Takeovers will be running monthly throughout the year with breweries such as Tiny Rebel, Verdant Brewing and Northern Monk Brew, so there’s sure to be something that tickles your fancy.
Yep. That’s a haggis lasagne alright.
And finally. . . It’s getting Scot in here! Aldi makes Burns Night lasagne with haggis.
Burns Night is, of course, founded on tradition. And tradition is fun, you know what you’re going to get. But this year, Burns Night 2020 will be known as the year that Aldi, everyone’s favourite discount supermarket, really shook things up because it has given Scotland’s national dish, the haggis, an Italian twist with a recipe for haggis lasagne. Yes, really! Literally lasagne with haggis, it’s the greatest Scots-Italian mash-up since Peter Capaldi. Imagine serving that at a traditional Burns Night. If this kind of culture collision isn’t your thing, then you can just buy the haggis from Aldi and enjoy it in its pure form. But if we could time travel, the only place we’d be going is back to the late 1700s to ask Robert Burns himself what he thinks of this. Salute! No, wait. Slange var!
Burns Night is now an international institution with events celebrated all over the world. Ian Buxton should know, he’s hosted a few. But now he’s hanging up his ceremonial trews,…
Burns Night is now an international institution with events celebrated all over the world. Ian Buxton should know, he’s hosted a few. But now he’s hanging up his ceremonial trews, so it’s the perfect time to share the highs and lows of honouring Scotland’s national poet in some decidedly unScottish environments.
After many months of reflection and internal discussions, I have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. I intend to step back from Burns Night to focus on a new chapter.
Over the past decade it’s been my pleasure and privilege to attend Burns Night celebrations, often acting as fear an taighe (that’s master of ceremonies to you), at gatherings as far-flung as San Diego in the west to Budapest in the east; Lisbon to the south and Helsinki in the north. Not every one of these would be recognised as an entirely conventional Burns Night in Alloway, the birthplace of the great man.
Burns Night, for those of you unaware of the event, is the biggest celebration in the Scottish calendar (well, apart from Hogmanay, possibly, and the Scottish Cup Final, but Celtic generally win that and it’s getting quite boring to be honest). It commemorates the 25th January 1759, birth of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet. He’s noted, apart from the verse obvs, for collecting traditional songs, authorship of a book full of dirty ditties that his admirers tactfully forget to mention and for siring twelve or possibly thirteen children with four different women. Frankly, in the world of #MeToo, Burns would be in the dock as a sex pest.
But back to the party, which involves the consumption of haggis and whisky; a set pattern of speeches and sometimes songs, and the consumption of haggis, not forgetting the whisky which greatly assists getting the haggis eaten up. Not everything runs smoothly on these occasions (did I mention the consumption of whisky?)
Now that is what a haggis is supposed to look like
At one event in the rather glamorous setting of Lugano in Switzerland, I was deputed to give the Address to the Haggis and all eight verses were requested. No difficulty there as I learned this at my mother’s knee and other low joints (sorry). I instructed the kitchen and requested a sharp knife for the theatrical third verse:
His knife see Rustic-labour dight, An’ cut ye up wi’ ready slight, Trenching your gushing entrails bright, Like onie ditch; And then, O what a glorious sight, Warm-reekin, rich!
They obliged with something close to a bayonet. Again, no difficulty as I fondly imagined this could only add to the fun. What I did not expect was that the kitchen, having been strictly enjoined not to cut up the presentation haggis, had also neglected to cook it.
The result: a greasy, rugby-ball shaped beast that resisted all my increasingly frenzied attempts to break through its skin and which proceeded to bounce off the magnificent platter and across the table. My Italian audience applauded with vigour, believing this to be a regulation part of the proceedings; the Scots in the room were generally helpless with laughter, though their enthusiastic consumption of whisky may have played some small part.
In Oslo, the distinguished chef took great offence at the idea that the haggis should be shipped from Scotland and insisted that he was more than capable of preparing the dish himself. The result looked like cheap dog food, which I then spent some anxious minutes wrapping in cling film wrap to give some resemblance to an actual haggis. “So you eat this in Scotland,” enquired one politely curious guest. I fear that I may have prevaricated somewhat and that they can only be disappointed if ever they encounter the genuine article.
Ian Buxton with Hungary’s finest piper
On piping in the haggis in Budapest the locally-engaged piper, allegedly the finest in Hungary and it must be conceded splendidly arrayed in full Brigadoon mode, appeared to have indulged not wisely but well in the drams that I had arranged. As a result he was unable to inflate the bag on his pipes and marched in an unsteady manner, swaying somewhat as I attempted several a cappella verses of ‘Flower of Scotland’ while we presented the haggis to the assembled guests, now somewhat bemused by proceedings. No more, I may add, than I was. The piper made his excuses and left shortly afterwards
And, at a prestigious London venue, the kitchen staff made such a mess of cooking the haggis that the host for the evening dragged them out in front of the guests and made them apologise to the company for their inept presentation. If nothing else, it certainly made for an unforgettable evening.
On Burns Night, in the words of the poet: “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men/ Gang aft agley”. Truer words have seldom been written!
The judges have conferred, discussed, mused and argued. Now after much debate, we have chosen a winner in our Robert Burns Single Malt competition. Here are all the details: It’s…
The judges have conferred, discussed, mused and argued. Now after much debate, we have chosen a winner in our Robert Burns Single Malt competition. Here are all the details:
It’s Burns Night which means that it’s time to announce the winner of our poetry competition. We were inundated with entries, from haikus to rude limericks to long poems written in the style of Burns. There were many that rhymed whisky with frisky, some that made us laugh, and others that made us groan. There were even a few that were too obscene to print. Overall though, we were amazed by how much effort some of you put in. Who knew Master of Malt customers would be so talented? We were so impressed that we’ve picked five runners up who will all receive drams.
One of the biggest dates in the year for Scotch whisky fans approaches – Burns Night! Supply your supper with some of the best around with this sublime selection! Commemorating…
One of the biggest dates in the year for Scotch whisky fans approaches – Burns Night! Supply your supper with some of the best around with this sublime selection!
Commemorating the anniversary of Robert Burns on his birthday, 25 January, is a tradition upheld all over the world. Libation, literature and laggis – I mean haggis – will be enjoyed by many as we toast a man who loved a good Scotch himself.
A notable feature of his poems, Burns often spoke of his love of whisky, even scalding the English for raising whisky duty. It would surely please one of Scotland’s favourite sons to know people celebrate his life to this day with plenty of the water of life, or ‘usquabae’, as it was known back then.
Whether you’re a seasoned Burns supper pro or you fancy experiencing one for the first time (you really should do it at least once in your life, it’s great fun), you’ll need to stock up on Scotch to do the night justice.
So, we’ve rounded up a remarkable range to mark the occasion, from sublime single malts to brilliants blends, and a great grain whisky for good measure. Each has an accompanying Burns poem or song and themed cocktail to boot. And for those who simply can’t get enough of all things Robert Burns, be sure to check out our Burns Night poetry competition, where you could win a bottle of Robert Burns Single Malt!
Friday 25th January is Burns Night and to celebrate Scotland’s bard we are doing something a little different, a poetry competition! Robbie Burns was not only Scotland’s greatest poet but…
Friday 25th January is Burns Night and to celebrate Scotland’s bard we are doing something a little different, a poetry competition!
Robbie Burns was not only Scotland’s greatest poet but he was also famously keen on Scotland’s greatest export, Tunnock’s Teacakes. Sorry, whisky! If Burns had the money, he drank Ferintosh from the Black Isle, which was considered the best whisky in Scotland. When it stopped distilling in 1784, Burns wrote a poem: “Ferintosh! O sadly lost! Scotland lament frae coast to coast….” Though a lowlander, he was not very keen on Lowland whiskies, referring to them as “rascally liquor”. Perhaps though, Burns’s most famous pronouncement was: “Freedom an’ whisky gang thegither! Take aff your dram!” And who can argue with that?
So to celebrate Burns and Scotch whisky, Master of Malt is proud to announce a poetry competition. All you have to do is write a poem about whisky. It’s as simple as that. It could be a sonnet, a haiku, a limerick, or, if you have the time, an epic like ‘Paradise Lost’. You could even write it in the style of Burns. It could be about a specific whisky (shall I compare thee to a Famous Grouse?), or could be about whisky in general. We only insist that your poem must be in English or Scots. The winner will be the one that we think is the best (making us laugh will probably help).