Robbie Burns Day celebrates the life of the famous Scottish poet on the day of his birth, January 25th. A traditional Burns Supper involves piping in a haggis and reciting Robert Burns’ “Address to a haggis”. It also wouldn’t be Burns Day without having a wee dram of scotch and this year Vintage Wine & Spirits delivered with nine delightful samples. They offered two tastings on January 21st and 22nd, both of which were sold out. The best part? Haggis flavoured chips!!!
Aberlour 10, 40% ABV, $50
An excellent whisky for beginners to start with as it is very well priced and not overwhelming on the palate.
Taste: Tingly on the tongue, caramel, cereal, bit of clove. Flavour doesn’t change much.
Glenmorangie Tusail, 46% ABV, $109
Made with a winter barley, Maris Otter, which delivers on hearty flavours but without the yield of other barleys. Very enjoyable dram, but could possibly find a similar tasting whisky at a lower price point.
Nose: Sweet, floral, corn, reminded me of bourbon
Taste: Flavours roll over the tongue, beginning with spices of cinnamon allspice and nutmeg fading to a grainy/cereal finish.
Glenfiddich The Original, 40% ABV, $116
Modern day recreation of the first single malt for the North American market released in 1963. This was your grandfather’s Glenfiddich. Personally don’t enjoy the characteristic Glenfiddich taste but is a decent buy for those interested in the nostalgia of it. Otherwise stick with the 12 year old for a lower priced option.
Nose: Coriander and a pinch of pear
Taste: Spicy, simply mouth feel with a slow lingering finish. Like drinking a woodsy campfire ignited with lighter fluid and a dash of cinnamon
Scapa Skiren, 40% ABV, $68
Located on the Orkney Isles, the word skiren is old Norse for the glittering skies after a rain. This is a great whisky at a great value.
Nose: Baklava, honey
Taste: Simple, more honey and sweet fruit with a tangy citrus.
Mackinlay’s The Enduring Spirit, 47.3% ABV, $209
The second recreation of the whisky discovered in an abandoned Antarctic expedition camp. Three cases of Mackinlay’s 1907 scotch were stored under the floor in 1909 by explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew before setting out on a trek to the south pole. Unfortunately poor weather conditions and a shortage of food shortened their trek and they barely made it back to the ship in time to sail out before the ice closed them in, which meant leaving the bottles of scotch behind. The whisky wasn’t found for a century later in 2010 when restoration on the cabin required the floor boards be replaced. The Mackinlay’s brand no longer exists but the parent company Whyte & Mackay, obtained bottles for the purpose of recreating the whisky.
The packaging is also quite clever, replicating the paper-like covering that was used to protect bottles in the early 1900’s. This whisky is absolutely delicious, but keep in mind the price reflects the work gone into the recreation and its rich history.
Nose: Smokey bacon
Taste: Like a peated Dalmore whisky (also produced by Whyte & Mackay), toffee, nutty, with lingering smoke. Would pair well with a cigar.
Arran The Illicit Stills, 56.4% ABV, $168
A tribute to the days of illegal distilling on the isle of Arran, the bottle comes in a beautiful box that looks like a book that has been carved out on the inside to hid a bottle of whisky, complete with one fake page. This is the first in a series of three.
Nose: oily with minor peat
Taste: The peat dries out the mouth, has a caramel flavour along the edges of the tongue, fruity, plums.
Sheep Dip Islay, 40% ABV, $59
This is a blended whisky using only Islay malts. The name may seem like an odd choice, but like the Arran is a tribute to those avoiding the law. To keep from paying a whisky tax on their casks farmers would label them “Sheep Dip”, which is delousing liquid for sheep. I wonder how often casks got confused?
Nose: Strong, Equal parts peat and smoke
Taste: Is certainly a mix of all Islay whiskies in one, not any one distillery characteristic pops out. The peat isn’t as strong as the nose would have you think. Excellent for the price range. If you’re not sure whether or not you like peated whiskies and not willing to spend a lot to find out this would be a good choice.
Bowmore The Devil’s Cask III, 56.6% ABV, $138
We had one of the previous expressions of Bowmore Devil’s Cask which was strong with cinnamon but this third and final expression was more to my liking.
Nose: Christmas baking smell, raisins and peat
Taste: Dried fruit and almonds
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2008, 50% ABV $87
We’re huge fans of Bruichladdich and this was no exception.
Nose: Peat of course, salt and vinegar chips that gives way to apples
Palate: Not as drying in the mouth as the Arran, sea salt, light smoky finish, sweetness of lemon squares.
What will you be drinking this Robbie Burns’ Day? Sláinte!