Ever wanted a whisky expert to tell you how to enjoy the ‘water of life’? Luckily for you, our whisky enthusiast Ludo Ducrocq will tell you exactly what to do to get the best out of whisky.
The best thing about whisky is that the creators (the Scots) have perfected the art of finding reasons to celebrate their national drink. Those from Scotland will tell you that any opportunity to enjoy the drink, is a good opportunity. Whether it is wetting a baby’s head to mark the arrival of a newborn or simply enjoying it with friends, as long as you’re drinking whisky, there’s no need to worry about the occasion.
So let us give you our expert tips on enjoying this amazing drink…
1. Burns Night - 25th of January
There are numerous local and national celebrations throughout the year which are better spent with a glass in hand. These range from the smallest Highland games to Scotland’s national day – Saint Andrew’s Day. There are fairly new inventions in the form of annual “whisky days” too. In fact, there are two International / World Whisky Days in the year. However, the main whisky party is, of course, Burns Night. Grab your friend and some good food, and follow that up with one of the excellent single malts Scotland has to offer to really celebrate like a Scot.
It's the first national event of the calendar year and is the birthday of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, who left his mark on the country in the 18th century. Burns wrote many famous poems including ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and ‘Address to a Haggis’. Burns Night is a celebration of all the things Robert liked about Scotland, including good food, company, Scotch whisky and poetry.
If you’re ever in Scotland when it's safe to travel again, I would recommend visiting the house where Burns was born in Ayrshire. There’s a fantastic museum, and whilst you’re in that part of Scotland, why not pay a visit to A.D. Rattray’s whisky shop in Maybole? They have a friendly and knowledgeable team, the shop is well-stocked, nicely decorated and they can organise tutored tastings. Well worth a visit.
Want to know everything about Scotch whisky? Visit our what is Scotch page!
Alternatively, read the introduction to this Scotch whisky series: the world of whisky. Written by whisky expert and EBS course creator, Ludo Ducrocq.
2. Online events
Obviously, this year will be a little different in many countries and I'm not sure how many live events will be taking place near you. Fortunately, many events have gone digital. At the time of writing, there are tickets left for the following events, which of course all involve a whisky or six:
These events are mainly happening around Burns Night. Even with a global pandemic, the Scots still find a way to enjoy a malt whisky. Don’t let a computer screen put you off drinking a ‘wee dram’. These events are whisky tastings, led by certified whisky experts. You’ll be enjoying the whisky at the comfort of your home; tasting notes and examining its quality of appearance.
It may just be an online event, but as I said before, there doesn’t need to be an official reason to enjoy a glass of Scotch.
Ever wondered why Scotch can have a smoky, earthy flavour? Find out why here on our peated whisky page.
3. Paired with haggis
Another great way to enjoy Scotch whisky is with a hearty Scottish haggis. It may not catch the eye but its flavour and recipe couldn’t be simpler. If you need instructions for the recipe, then we’ve linked them here for you. Most people would recommend pouring the whisky on top of your haggis, to get the full Scottish experience. However, I’m not a big fan of this idea. I like both whisky and haggis but draw the line at having them on the same plate. What I would suggest is, enjoying a little glass of Scotch before emptying your malt whisky all over the warm haggis.
With that said, my whisky of choice to accompany a haggis (preferably on the side) tends to be a slightly richer, spicier whisky. A single malt with a noticeable amount of sherry-cask influence, such a Glenfiddich Solera or Glenmorangie Lasanta would both be perfect for a haggis-themed night.
Of course, blended whiskies of grain or malt, will make a perfect accompanier too. Research the flavours and notes, and you can’t go wrong. The main thing is to enjoy it!
As far as classic whiskey cocktail recipes go, EBS’ Head of Education was quick to remind me of a Bobby Burns. History and recipes for this great cocktail can be found easily.
That’s all for this month. I’ll return in February, hopefully with good news regarding the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.
For any more inspiration on whisky-based cocktails or the history of whiskey, itself, check out our main 'what is whiskey' page here.
Inspired to taste whiskey properly? Our ‘how to taste whiskey’ guide will get you experiencing all the notes whiskey has to offer.
Want to master whisky behind the bar? Take a look at our EBS Bartender Courses.