Burns Night won’t be quite the same this year because of Covid-19 restrictions. There won’t be any big gatherings and households aren’t allowed to mix either, but that’s no reason to give it a miss. Taking place on the 25th January every year, Burns Night is one of the biggest celebrations of the calendar for Scots and because whisky is at the heart of those celebrations, its appeal runs around the world.
The traditional Burns Night Supper proceedings call for plenty of toasts with Scotland’s national drink, so even if you’re having to come together over Zoom this year, there are still ways to enjoy this most Scottish of nights with a good Scotch whisky.
Which whisky to go for depends on your preferences (without having to think about what your guests might prefer this time) but here are some recommendations:
Arran’s Robert Burns Blend – An obvious choice for this occasion, it’s officially endorsed by the Robert Burns World Federation and is light with a hint of smoke.
Dalmore King Alexander III – Not a cheap option for sure, but having been matured in six different types of barrels (wine, madeira, sherry, port, Marsala and bourbon), it’s a special and complex Scotch for a special night.
Regions of Scotland Whisky Tasting Set – On this most Scottish of nights, why not treat yourself to a tour of the five Whisky regions of the country with this set of 3cl drams?
Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Solera – A rich and spicy whisky with a touch of candied fruit, it’s a perfect way to celebrate Burns Night.
Glen Grant 10 year old – If you’re looking for value without compromising on quality, this Speyside single malt is a great light choice with notes of citrus fruits.
So, whatever whiskies you choose for your Burns Night drams, here’s how you can make it work this year:
Unless one of your Zoom guests has a set of bagpipes lying around, playing some mood-setting Scottish music from a Burns Night playlist on Spotify will do fine for this introduction to the night.
The host should say a few words here, welcoming everyone to the Burns Supper. This is a good time for a toast too.
This is the traditional grace said before Burns Night Supper, so even if you’re not all together you can still use it and be ‘thankit’ for the suppers you’re all about to eat.
Some more traditional Scottish music can now be played to welcome the only guest allowed, (the haggis), while the host recites Address to a Haggis. Then there’s time for another toast.
Soup is the traditional Burns Night starter, ideally be a Scots broth, Cullen skink or cock-a-leekie. The main course is haggis, neeps & tatties, with clootie dumplings for pudding. And whisky of course.
Now it’s time for your Zoom guests to shine, so if any of them want to recite or sing their favourite Burns poem or song, it’s time for them to unmute!
If you have a Burns fanatic online, this is their chance to really show off, delivering a speech on the life and times of the great poet, followed by the toast of course – to the immortal memory of Robert Burns.
If you were in any doubt as to the importance of the whisky on Burns Night, here come even more toasts. There’s the Toast to the Lassies, a celebration of the female guests at the supper, and their opportunity to respond in the Reply to the Toast to the Lassies.
As the night comes to an end, there’s time for one final toast as the host thanks everyone for coming, before uniting all the guests in one last burst of Auld Lang Syne.
This Burns Night may not be quite the same, but with the right whiskies and the right Zoom guests, you can still make it one to remember.