Scottish Whisky Pairings for Burn Night

January 22, 2020

Scottish Whisky Pairings for Burn Night

Robert Burns is considered one of the finest poets of the Romantic era.  His work, including a personal favorite of mine, called “To a Mouse” is famous worldwide, and he has become a cultural icon for the people of Scotland.  In fact, he was voted as the greatest Scot by the people of Scotland in 2009.

Once a year, on his birthday, January 25th, the people of Scotland celebrate Burns Night.  On this night, people are treated to a series of dinners and parties to celebrate the life and works of Robert Burns. The celebration includes various Scottish foods, dancing, reciting Burns poems, and of course, indulging in some fine glasses of Scotch. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best Scotches to enjoy this Burns night and what cigars would go well with them.


Burns Night


Talisker might not have the notoriety of a Glenlivet or Johnnie Walker, but it is a favorite among scotch drinkers.  It is made on one of only two distilleries on the small Isle of Skye.  It is aged in formerly used bourbon barrels, giving it a distinct sweetness that I love.  It is incredibly balanced, with a good amount of smoke and peat, but with an underlining hit of berries and butterscotch.

For your choice in a cigar, you want something equally balanced, with both smoky and sweet notes.  I would go for my old reliable, the Oliva Cain Daytona.  This cigar is a flavor changer, with notes of earth, leather, and smoke mixing brilliantly with nuanced notes of dried fruit and a hint of vanilla sweetness.

Bowmore 15

Bowmore is an Islay scotch from the makers of Laphroaig.  It is said that the distillers have the oldest aging warehouse in the world.  There is a lot going on in the Bowmore, from a strength perspective, and also from its flavor profile.  After being aged for its last few years in sherry casks, the whisky smooths out tremendously but leaves its complexity intact.  It is nowhere near as peaty or smoky as Laphroaig, instead of focusing on sweet and spicy flavors.  Hints of dark fruit and caramel are apparent at first, followed by a smooth yet slightly spicy finish.

For this pairing, I went to a cigar company also known for its age and subtly, the Padron 1926 in the Maduro wrapper.  This cigar has been aged for a minimum of four years, creating a smooth and rich profile.  Notes of sweetness and cedar will mix quite nicely with the scotch, while its spicy Nicaraguan tobaccos add a nice spicy finish.

Arran Robert Burns Single Malt

While preparing to write this blog, I asked a few of my Scotch drinking friends what I should try out for research.  One of them suggested what has to be the most perfect scotch for the occasion.  The Arran Distillery is the only distillery now on the Isle of Arran.  It was opened in 1994, and since then, has created some of the world’s most highly-rated small batches.  Being a patron of the World Robert Burns Foundation, the distillery was given the go-ahead to make a special scotch in honor of the poet.

Named the Arran Robert Burns Single Malt, this whisky is bold and rich with a wonderful amount of flavor.  Notes of honey and black pepper combine with touches of dried fruit for a rollercoaster of a profile.  Its combination of slightly spicy, but also rich and sweet taste, made it a perfect companion for a Crowned Heads La Coalicion.  This newest release uses a Broadleaf wrapper for a deep, rich sweetness combined with Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos for a nutty and slightly spicy center.


I hope you have the chance to try some of the pairings on the list, but I understand if you can’t because “the best-laid plans of mice and men, gang aft agley”.



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