Burns night drams

Burns night drams

As the yearly event comes around to celebrate one of Scotland’s most favourite sons, we thought it was high time to give you some Scotch whiskies from the big man’s region to raise a toast to him

News | 24 Jan 2020 | By Rob Allanson

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For those not in the know, Robert Burns has become the shining beacon of Scottish poetry and a bastion of culture. Across the world on 25 January people gather to commemorate the birth in 1759 of the national poet, who is now as much celebrated in places like Russia and Japan as he is in his native Ayrshire.

Burns is constantly linked to whisky; he once worked as an exciseman, was born in Ayr not far from the current Girvan Distillery (owned by William Grant and Son and famous for being the home of Grants Blended whisky, Ailsa Bay single malt and Hendricks Gin), and he wrote many poems about the nation’s favourite drink.

In one of his more well-known poems Tam O’Shanter, which Scottish blend Cutty Sark celebrated a few years ago by releasing a commemorative 25 Years Old edition, he writes:

‘Wi' tippeny [tuppenny ale], we fear nae evil;
Wi' usquabae [whisky], we’ll face the devil!’

Possibly his most quoted lines about whisky come from his poem The Author’s Earnest Cry and Prayer, written in around 1786 and addressed to ‘The Right Honourable and Honourable Scotch Representatives in the House of Commons'.

The representatives in question had just voted through the Scotch Distillery Act of 1786, which included an extra duty aimed at Scottish distillers exporting spirit to England – seems import taxes and tariffs never change. The line goes:

‘Freedom and whisky gang thegither,
Tak aff your dram!’

Certainly something to toast aloud as you raise a glass to the Immortal Bard himself.

Our choices from the Lowland region of Scotland


12 Years Old


Three Wood


12 Years Old


Distillers Edition

Ailsa Bay

Sweet Smoke 2.1

That Boutique-y Whisky Company

Rosebank 28 Years Old

That Boutique-y Whisky

Littlemill 27 Years Old


Adela 15 Years Old


Dream to Dram

One spare would be Johnnie Walker Black. Why this? Burns needed money to fund a move to Jamaica, to start a new life away from the drudgery of farming. To raise money he published a collection of poems by subscription, published in Kilmarnock – the spiritual home of Johnnie Walker. The edition has become Burns' answer to Shakespeare’s First Folio. Just another reason to raise a dram and read from the collection.
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