A bard day’s night
Author: Ronnie Cox
There are reputedly more statues of Rabbie Burns around the world than there are of William Shakespeare; the cause of this is undoubtedly the courage of Scots in leaving their country for pastures new, combined with the appalling treatment of the crofters by the landowners (mostly Scots) in the 18th and 19th centuries.
I consider Burns a pioneer of Scottish Socialism and he is rightly credited with being more than just a cultural icon. The extent of his importance is reflected in his selection as ‘the greatest Scot’ back in 2009 – a vote run by Scottish television channel STV, with the honour bestowed in celebration of his birthday on the 25th January.
I love Burns not for his political leanings so much as for his detailed observation and translation of everyday life; yet I also love the fact that he was an Excise man – the scourge of the ‘illegal’ distilleries in Scotland. He must have been desperate to have taken this job, for his love of the amber nectar is well documented in several poems whilst his abhorrence of the Excise man is shown below in the translated verse of ‘Scotch Drink’:
Those cursed horse leeches of the Excise,
Who make the whisky stills their prize!
Hold up your hand, Devil! Once, twice, three times!
There, seize the spies!
And bake them up in brimstone pies
For poor damned drinkers.
So what Glenrothes dram should be on hand for this special celebration on the 25th? Before dinner I would go for an Alba Reserve taken out of the deep freeze after a two-day rest. It pours like glue but vapourising on the palate delivers a citrus and vanilla surprise every time. With haggis you will need something spicy to counter the peppers and spices: for this try the Vintage 1998, even daring to dribble a little into the Haggis (first making sure it is truly deceased). For the pudding you will have a sublime choice of the relaxing style of 2001, which matches any mouthwateringly delicious chocolate or vanilla sponge platter. Slainthe.
PS When you buy a bottle of The Glenrothes in our London Shop, you will receive a free sample of The Glenrothes Select Reserve.