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Burns Night. The history, and recipes for a feast

Fort Lauderdale Freelance Chef

Miami Personal Chef

 √ílamaid deoch-sl√†inte! An Ode to Single Malt

On the 25th of January there is a tradition to have a Burns Night Supper in honour of the “Bard” Robert Burns, Scotland's favourite son, the Ploughman Poet. The menu is usually quite specific and includes Haggis, a definite acquired taste, but that is another article altogether. During the course of the night toasts are made in his honour with “a wee dram” of
W H I S K Y. Please note the spelling. It is a huge insult to a Scotsman or woman if you put an “E” before the “Y”. That is Irish or American and certainly not the aqua vitae that is produced in Scotland.
The best Scotch Whiskies are Single Malt. Malt" indicates that the whisky is distilled from a "malted" grain. More than one type of grain can be malted; barley, rye and wheat, however, in the case of single malt Scotch, barley is always the only grain used. A single malt Scotch must be distilled in Scotland and matured in oak casks in Scotland for a minimum of three years , although most single malts are aged longer.
Until 2009 a “blended” whisky contained both barley and a non-barley grained alcohol. A "blended malt Scotch whisky" is a mixture of single malt Scotch whiskies from different distilleries, not a mixture of malted barley whisky and non-barley whisky; those are called “blended scotch whisky” without the word “malt”.
The age on the bottle represents the number of years the whisky aged in the cask. Very few are produced from a single cask and therefore it is counted from the youngest vintage in the cask.
There are six regions that produce distinctly different flavours, aromas, and finishes. They are Highlands, Island, Speyside, Islay, L0wland and Campbeltown. The differences come from the water and the land just as with grapes.
Here are a few of my favourite Whiskies.
Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Solera Reserve- Speyside $32.00
The Glenfiddich Solera system is unique amongst Scotch whisky distillers. Fifteen-year-old Glenfiddich from three types of casks – traditional American bourbon, Spanish sherry and new oak – is married in a large Solera vat, made of Oregon pine. The vat is always kept at least half full, ensuring a consistent quality of whisky is maintained whenever it is topped up. A full and fruity nose, with delicate honey and vanilla notes. The taste is exceptionally smooth, with a deep flavour that reveals fruit, gentle spice and a touch of oak.
Glenmorangie 18 Year Old- Highland $127.00
An attractive deep gold colour, warm and enticing. The bouquet is very full, round and perfumed with nutty, caramel and vanilla overtones. Exceptionally smooth, 'silky' and round. Fine, fully flavoured and subtle with a long, consistent aftertaste, it is delivered with great intensity and depth.
Laphroaig Quarter Cask-Island $55.00
Full sparkling gold. A nose of smoky burning peat, hints of coconut and banana.Full bodied.
Deep, complex and smoky yet offers and surprises the palate with a gentle sweetness. Really long finish of smoke and spice.
Aberlour 15- Speyside $55.00
Floral perfume, spicy orange and marmalade. Rich and vanilla, malty, woody sweetness with apricot flavours, toffee and loads of obvious sherry sweetness, cake icing. Malty, mellow, with a certain spiciness and a touch of mint.
Ardbeg Corryvreckan- Islay $90.00
Floral, citrus, orange, orange peel, dried fruits, currants, vanilla, peaty, woody, maritime, sea spray, salt air. Dark fruits, dark chocolate, dry, brut, clover, malt, oak, cedar, peat, smoky, maritime, savory. It finishes with spicy, peppery, oak, toffee, almond, butter, briny, smoke, smooth, long.
Auchentoshan 16 year old, Limited Edition- Lowland $90.00
Soft essence of vanilla, touch of honeyed caramel, some bourbon-like oak. Perfectly smooth, woody, with hints of creamy vanilla, and a hint of tangerine a rich finish with medium length, vanilla, citrus and almond, some caramel.
Go here for the recipes to make your own traditional Burns Supper. There's even a vegetarian version;

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