Celebrating Robbie Burns Day with Laphroaig Scotch

by W. Andrew Powell
Laphroaig Quarter Cask Scotch

How better to celebrate the one and only Robbie Burns, and all things Scottish, than with a dram of scotch and a little haggis? You really don’t need an excuse to enjoy a little scotch, but Robbie Burns Day is a great opportunity, and when a sample bottle of Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch arrived recently, it seemed like haggis was a necessary accessory for the special occasion.

Haggis is not something that you can buy anywhere, so it took a little hunting in Toronto, but I was able to find a Scottish butcher who supplies most of the city with the special dish, but it was worth the search. As a fan of haggis, and with Laphroaig, the two paired beautifully, although you don’t really need haggis to enjoy the wonderful, peaty scotch, and you don’t need an excuse for haggis either.

The Laphroaig Quarter Cask scotch is a slightly stronger spirit, at 48%, and the flavour is smooth, full bodied, and filled with the smoky fingers of peat throughout. For scotch fans who crave that peaty flavour, the spirit is coveted, but it’s also a wonderful entry scotch for newcomers since it’s so smooth and light-tasting otherwise, and it’s also perfect for anyone looking to try a uniquely flavoured single malt whisky. The taste is unmistakable, once you’ve tried Laphroaig Quarter Cask, and it has a seductively smooth finish.

That finish is why I had to try it with haggis, and I wasn’t disappointed. I’m sure it would pair well with a range of dishes, including a good charcuterie board. Laphroaig’s long-lasting finish also offers a hint of spice as it disappears, which is a nice surprise.

The way this specialty scotch is made means that there is 30% more wood contact with the scotch when it is maturing, which intensifies the flavours from the barrel. Taking a breath of the beautiful golden scotch makes that very obvious, and the scent of burning peat jumps out, along with a hint of sweetness and apple.

While Laphroaig Quarter Cask is not a whisky that I would bring out for every occasion, it is an astonishingly unique scotch at a great price–retailing at $69.95 at the LCBO in Ontario.

So, who was this Robbie Burns guy we’re talking about? For the unaware, Robbie Burns was a famed Scottish poet (if nothing else, the great Scott deserves credit for penning the perennial New Years Eve classic, “Auld Lang Syne”), and every year on his birthday–January 25–people around the world toast “Scotland’s favourite son” with Burns Supper, which features a speech, poetry, pipers, and, of course, haggis.

This year marks Burns’ 256th birthday, which is remarkable when you think about the fact that people have been celebrating Burns’ life for more than 200 years, thanks to friends of the poet who started the tradition all the way back in 1801.

To honour Robbie Burns Day, and to spread a little of the Laphroaig joy, The GATE is giving away a bottle for one lucky person in Ontario. Enter the giveaway if you’re of legal drinking age.

If you want to find more reason to celebrate Robbie Burns, head over to CBC Books for 10 facts about the Scottish legend.

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