Six ideas for Burns Night
THE tatties have been dug up, the neeps have been steeping for weeks and the haggis has been caught from the hillside.
It can all mean only one thing – Burns Night is nearly upon us again.
Time to take a look through the notebook from the past few months and pick out some suitable tipples to accompany the traditional fayre and toast the Bard.
LES ARBOUSIERS COTEAUX DU LANGUEDOC, 2015, £8.99 (VIRGIN WINES)
The South of France is a great location to go searching for affordable wines that pack a punch and this example from the Languedoc doesn’t disappoint. A traditional blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre, it’s packed full of sweet blackcurrant and sharper redcurrant flavours, but it was the bright acidity that caught my attention the most, making this a good match for peppery haggis.
GRAN VILLA GRAN RESERVA, 2006, £11.99 (VIRGIN WINES)
Rioja’s next door neighbour, Navarra, is often overshadowed by its companion’s fame, but there are plenty of exciting wines to explore in the region – and often at Rioja-beating prices too. This is a very modern mix of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Graciano and the result is really interesting, with lots of bright acidity still present a decade after the grapes were harvested.
JACOB’S CREEK DOUBLE BARREL SHIRAZ, £12 (SAINSBURY’S)
Don’t dismiss brands like Jacob’s Creek without trying some of their grown-up wines. I tried this Shiraz at a lunch during the festive season and it rewarded a second tasting. The wine is aged in barrels that had previously been used for Scotch whisky – adding to its case for a space at our Burns Supper. The intense black cherry flavours are complemented by the vanilla from the casks, with its time under wood also adding a deliciously rounded mouth-feel to the wine.
FIVE-YEAR-OLD BLENDED SCOTCH WHISKY, £17.99 (CO-OP)
The Co-op scooped up a gold medal at the 2016 International Spirits Challenge for this blend of Highland and Speyside whiskies. It may have only had five years in oak barrels, but that’s been long enough to smooth out any rough edges. On the nose, it’s full of honey, smoke and orange peel, which lead into citrus, vanilla and sweet caramel flavours on the palate.
GLEN MARNOCH HIGHLAND SINGLE MALT WHISKY, £17.99 (ALDI)
It may have a made-up name, but the credentials behind this whisky are very real, with a prize from 2016 Grocer Drinks Awards tucked firmly under its belt. Subtle aromas of apple, lemon rind, spun sugar and vanilla on the nose develop into more intense brown sugar, honey and vanilla tastes on the tongue, with a sweet finish to match the warming spirit.
BUCK AND BIRCH AELDER LIQUEUR, £24.95 (ROYAL MILE WHISKIES)
Something really interesting from Rupert Waites, the head chef and chief forager at the pop-up food company Buck & Birch. This “elixir” or liqueur combines Scotch whisky with elderberries and foraged spices and botanicals. It looks almost like port in the glass, but the nose is full of dried fruit and vanilla – like a marzipan-frosted Christmas cake. On the palate, it’s all about the sweet honey and sharper redcurrant-like fruit flavours. A good match for a Burns Night clootie dumpling.