Piper Sargent Steve PlumbOn Saturday 27th January we gathered together to celebrate the life of Scotland’s National Bard, Robert Burns, who was born on 25th January 1759.

At The Wee Dram we, of course, do this in our own way, other Burns Suppers have a lot of poetry, songs, many speeches, and a lot of toasts – to the Lassies, the Laddies , guests, family, mice etc. However we don’t go in for too much of that, we have Haggis of course but we have by far the best selection of whiskies of any Burns supper – since the one we did last year.

 

The Whiskies

 

Tomintoul 16 – 40%

A classic Speyside whisky, situated near the village of Tomintoul, the highest village in the Highlands. The distillery is in the valley right next to the river Livet. Founded in 1965, capacity – 3.3m litres. Owned by Angus Dundee distillers, a family business that also owns Glencadam Distillery.  Although relatively small Angus Dundee have a number of successful export blends (Dundee, Big Ben, Scottish Royal) which means they account for 5% of Scotch Whisky Exports.

This is a light gentle style of whisky, easy drinking, great as a Skulk or aperitif.

 

Bruichladdich -  Classic Laddie – 50%

This distillery is a legend in its own lunchtime.  Recently I was talking to our Laddie rep, Anne Marie, who we’ve known for some years. She was saying that it was great to talk to me as I knew a lot of stories about Bruichladdich, Jim, Duncan and the OLD Days. Apparently I have now recached the age where I remember “the old days”.

The distillery was closed for some years in the 1990’s by the then owners Jim Beam Brands. It was reopened in 2001 by a consortium headed by Mark Raynier and Iconic distiller Jim McEwen. Originally founded in 1881, they make a lighter more gentle style of Islay whisky. They bottle at 50% because the production guys think its better at this strength.

 The Line Up

 

Glenfarclas 10 y/o – 40%

Still a family owned and run distillery. Founded in 1836, by Robert Hay. It was brought by the Grant family in 1865. John and his son George brought it as a farm, it just happened to have a distillery as part of the operations. Actually it was only the current generation of the family that have turned over the running of the farm over to management, rather than running it themselves. Today the Chairman is John Grant and the Sales Director is George Grant.

This bottling is their standard 10 year old – uses half ex-bourbon casks and half ex-sherry casks.

 Addressing The Haggis

 

Tomatin Cask Strength – 57.5%

Situated just south of Inverness, in the Monadhliath Mountains second highest distillery in Scotland. Founded in 1897, Capacity today of 5m litres. In the mid 1980’s this was the largest malt distillery in Scotland with 23 stills.  In 1985 it went spectacularly bust. It was saved by their two biggest customers, both Japanese, coming together to buy the distillery and guarantee their supply. The first Scotch Whisky Distillery to be owned by the Japanese.

Over the last few years, they have been changing their emphasis from blends to single malt with excellent results.  This is their Cask Strength version – 57.5% abv – one of my favourites, we thought it would go well with Haggis.

 Guests

 

Arran Amarone Cask Finish – 50%

I have a soft spot for Arran Distillery as it first ran on 29th June 1995, my 30th birthday. It was founded by Harold Currie who wanted to make a light delicate whisky, unlike a lot of the other island whiskies. Harold died in March 2016 aged 91. In 2016 they doubled the number of stills to 4 which increased production to 1.2m litres. It is still an independently owned distillery.

This bottling has spent the last part of its maturation in a cask that previously held Amarone wine, a rich dry Italian red. It picks up some of the wine flavours from the cask. They also leave it nice and strong, 50% abv, as they don’t want to water out any subtle flavours.

 

Longrow – 46%

This is made at Springbank Distillery, the most traditional distillery in Scotland, situated in Campbelltown. Founded in 1828, still owned by Hedley Wright, the Great Great Grandson of Archibald Mitchell the founder. Campbeltown had 33 distilleries at it’s height at the end of the Ninetieth Century. At one point it only had 1. In fact in the 1980’s Springbank only produced whisky spasmodically, although they did continue to sell whisky, including their own blends. Longrow came about because Springbank was buying peaty whisky for their blends while they had spare capacity, so made their own – Longrow. Big smoky, peaty whisky.

Toast to The Immortal Memory

We ended the evening with a toast to the immortal memory of Robert Burns with full highland honours.

With full Highland Honours