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Award-winning whiskies to drink on Burns Night
If you're planning a Burns Night supper this weekend you may be wondering which whisky to pair with it. Born and bred Scot, Ewan Lacey, general manager of the International Wine & Spirit Competition has some answers.
"I’m from the north of Scotland and as a child, whisky was always present: at family gatherings, New Year and Christmas or in the bottom of my grandfather’s tumbler. For us then, it was something local and traditional but sadly, in decline. The ongoing story in the 80’s was of distilleries falling silent and often demolished. Distilleries were going to great lengths to try and find new business: indeed my sister’s class was invited on a school trip to the GlenDronach distillery and she came back laden with miniature bottles of whisky and a branded chamois leather windscreen cloth (she was nine years old!)
Thankfully, down to the planning and foresight of the men and women of the industry and the smart decision to position malt whiskies in the duty free market, the crisis was replaced by a boom. Thirty years of growth has led to peaks of quality in the industry. Scotland’s water of life – uisge beatha – has never been so good.
I’ve got a few recommendations below drawn from some of our top medal-winning whiskies, which will pair wonderfully well with the best of Scotland’s natural larder.
I favour a whisky like Glenmorangie Original (Gold 2014), it has ‘high’ flavour notes of citrus, dried fruit and has a lovely zesty finish, it offers a lovely contrast to the dense, deeply flavoured soup.
This is all about delicacy and one of the ‘silent’ lowland whiskies, such as Auchentoashan 12 (Silver Outstanding 2014) will offer a fabulous match because of its gentle flavour profile and smooth finish.
If you are serving one whisky throughout, I would recommend one of the fantastic own brand whiskies out there which are blended to appeal to a broad range of palates and flavours. Waitrose and Lidl (Queen Margot) both won Gold Outstanding for their 8 year old blended whiskies which offer tremendous value.
What to drink with haggis:
Haggis is rich and peppery and the choice is whether to complement these strong flavours or create a contrast with them.
Peaty, fully flavoured malts from Islay offer a fabulous match. They have a wonderful smoky characteristic which is fabulous with the spicy notes in the haggis. Blends such as White Horse (Gold Outstanding) also work, as do single Islay malts such as Bowmore or Laphroaig
If you’re looking for a contrast then the lighter malts of Speyside and the Highlands work wonderfully well. A blend such as Grant’s is a quintessential dram for those in search of something clear, pure and not too taxing on the wallet. Glenfiddich and Macallan are fantastic if you favour a single malt.
There are also some deluxe whiskies such as Chivas 18 year old (Gold Outstanding 2014) which are not only of the highest quality, but made with a broad range of drinkers in mind and will also match marvellously well with the haggis.
The IWSC 's Burns Night Supper is offered by T.E.D restaurant, King’s Cross from the 15th – 25th January. The five-course set menu is priced at £38.50 pp, whisky pairing at £22.50 pp. 0203 763 2080
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