What are you drinking January 25th?

What are you drinking January 25th?

Some readers may think that this is a strange question. Why this date you may ask? Those who celebrate January 25th annually with cock-a-leekie soup, neeps, tatties and haggis know that January 25th is Robbie Burns Day. Many may be surprised to learn that they have already raised a glass, indirectly, to Robbie Burns when they rang in the New Year. Auld Lang Syne, a staple of New Year’s Eve celebrations, was written by Robbie Burns, Scotland’s national poet, who was born on January 25, 1759.

Burns died at the age of 37 in 1796. At the time of his death, there were few (legal) distilleries around. There are many more now the world over, of course, but if you want to celebrate with a dram that Robbie Burns himself may have imbibed, you could raise a glass from one of the following four distilleries which were around in Burns’ time.

Littlemill Distillery will point you towards the inscription date of 1772 on one of their warehouses. They claim to be Scotland’s first and oldest licensed whisky distillery. Another reason to love them? In 1823, Jane MacGregor was the licensee making Littlemill one of the first distilleries (1823) to have a female licensee. (Littlemill silenced their stills in 1994, but the remaining casks of Littlemill will be released in limited edition bottles by Loch Lomond Distillery.)

Glenturret Distillery will note a rental document from 1763 which references Thurot Distillery, the earliest known name for Glenturret. This distiller claims to be the oldest distillery, tracing their ties to 1717 (we might skip over the illicit distilling and failure to pay taxes to England part of the history). Ironically, Robbie Burns, prior to becoming a poet, was a tax collector.

Bowmore, established in 1779, would be an easy choice. They received the second distillery license in Scotland and the first in Islay. (Side note: If anyone is pouring the Bowmore and Aston Martin ARC-52 (running at a cool $75,000), please remember to invite me over.)

Your last pick from Robbie’s time would be Strathisla Distillery – known in 1786 as Milltown Distillery – the oldest distillery in the north of Scotland. Strathisla Distillery refers to themselves as the spiritual home of Chivas.

If you wanted to raise a glass to the hometown of Robbie Burns, Alloway, Scotland, you would want to sip something from the region of Ayrshire and Arran. You could go with a newcomer, Arran Single Malt, which opened in 1995. Despite being relatively new, it was named 2007’s Distillery of the Year (Whisky Magazine) and Jim Murry’s whisky bible Best Single Malt (12 years and under). An obvious choice would be their Robert Burns Arran Single Malt Scotch Whisky. At 43% ABV, this sometimes difficult to find edition was a Michael Vaughan best buy and recommended with a score of 91. (The same line also offers a blended bottle.)

Freedom an’ whisky gang thegither! Take aff your dram! (Robert Burns).

Happy Robbie Burns Day!

Let us know in the comments what you will be drinking to celebrate.

5 thoughts on “What are you drinking January 25th?

  1. Robbie Burns: flawed hero, poet and inspiration. We’ll celebrate your legacy in a way you would have appreciated.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What an interesting article for historical context! I really appreciated the images along with the inclusion of “period correct” distillers. Well-written and a fun read overall.

    Liked by 2 people

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