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Robbie Burns Night: Haggis and Scotch Whiskey

Ah Robbie Burns, I bet you never thought your birthday would be so celebrated.  Though I am a lover of Scotch, I had never attended an official Robbie Burns night.  Father-in-law to the rescue!  His club (unfortunately doesn’t allow cellphones or cameras, so no live shots) was hosting a nosing and dinner, would I and WineguyTO like to join? Only if our friend Max Power could come too (I mean the guy has 70 bottles of scotch!)

The night officially started with 4 Highland dances by 2 talented ladies.  Then the piper delivered the “Address to a Haggis” by Burns, shortly thereafter, serving us each with a (thankfully!) small sampling.  This was my first real time eating haggis and it wasn’t that bad, though dry.  We were told to drop a little of the scotch on it, which did improve the taste.

We were then given a tutored tasting and pictorial explanation of the scotch making process by Todd MacDonald who holds the eminent distinction of being a Keeper of the Quaich.  In the spirits business for the last 30 years, he has been exclusive to scotch sales for the past 20, all with PMA Canada. He brought along 6 different scotches for us to taste from the William Grant & Sons Distillers, i.e. makers of Glenfiddich.  *Trivia, he told us that 1 in 3 bottles of scotch sold daily is a Glenfiddich.

The glasses were already poured and marked on a tasting place mat.  We started with a 12 year old Balvenie Doublewood Single Malt.  I nosed and tasted both with and without a drop of water (you want 1-2 drops of water to open up the flavours, really!).  I definitely smelled the sweetness of the honey and it was nice and smooth.  Then another Balvenie, the 12 year old Signature Single Malt.  I didn’t find much difference, though the rest of the tasters did.  We then had 4 different Glenfiddichs: a 12, 15, 18 and 21 year old.  Each became progressively better than the previous.  I think my favourite was the 21 year old. It was by far the smoothest, with hints of banana.

An interesting note, the ‘age’ of the scotch is really only the age of the youngest scotch in the mix.  Each one could have a 20, 45 or 60 year old in it to achieve the right combination to be an 15 year old taste.  We were told that the Scotch master has 3-4 apprentices who work with him for 20-30 years and only 1 will get his job.  But overall, they have to produce the same tasting scotch every batch, especially since the only changes to the process have been making the smoking of the peat more green.

Then it was on to dinner.  Simple, flavourful and delicious.  We started with a Scot’s Spinach Salad, made with green apples, goat cheese and a Glenlivet dressing.  I will definitely be trying to reproduce this at home!  Then our main course, a salmon filet with braised leeks with bacon  and a champagne sauce.  Mmm, bacon.  I will admit that the dessert was too rich!  A lovely white and dark chocolate tulip mould held a whisky chocolate mousse with blueberries, beside a butterscotch cookie topped with scotch ripple ice cream.  Heavenly!


4 responses »

  1. Pingback: Robbie Burns Day [Belated] « MaltBlog

  2. Excellent! ‘Twas a good night for a dram, and a fun night to spend with friends. I can’t thank you guys enough again for the invitation. Send my thanks on again to Dave’s dad for the excellent evening.


  3. Pingback: My first year! A review « Food, travel and fun with an uptown gal

  4. This unique post, “Robbie Burns Night: Haggis and Scotch Whiskey Food, travel and fun with
    an uptown gal” shows that u really understand precisely what you’re speaking about! I really entirely approve. With thanks -Lourdes



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