robertburns.jpg
What's a single-malt Scotch worthy of the poet Robert Burns?
Scotland has given us many great men--Sean Connery, John Muir...Ewan McGregor. But perhaps no other

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Toast Scotland's Favorite Son With These Single Malts

robertburns.jpg
What's a single-malt Scotch worthy of the poet Robert Burns?
Scotland has given us many great men--Sean Connery, John Muir...Ewan McGregor. But perhaps no other Scotsman is as celebrated as the 18th century poet and lyricist Robert Burns. January 25th is the annual celebration of the great poet's birth, and there may be no better time to pour yourself three fingers of a fine single-malt Scotch.

We've discussed the basics of Scotch here before. But I'll recap: Whiskey is the typical spelling for a brown booze from the U.S. Whisky is the spelling used in Europe. Single-malt whisk(e)y can be from anywhere; Single-malt Scotch must be from Scotland. The malt used in single-malt whisk(e)y is barley--100% of it. Distilling whisky is essentially distilling beer. Malted barley, water, and yeast. Distill it, age it, and bottle it.

While I love Scotch, I am generally a Bourbon girl. But there's something about the dark days of winter combined with rich, fortifying food that makes me crave the peaty, smokiness of a good Scotch. I'm not picky, though I do like the mild, almost sweet finish of the Glenmorangie Scotch that's been aged in port wood casks. I'm not the only fan of Glenmorangie. Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen, the lead sommelier at RN74 likes the Glenmorangie 10-year, because he thinks it's truly representative of a Highland Scotch. It can be found for about $40 a fifth--a bargain for a single malt Scotch.

RN74 is kicking off a series of multi-course menu pairings on January 23 with a Scotch pairing menu. Jeff Putt and Nicole Kincaid from Glenmorangie will be on hand to provide the tasting notes for the single malts, while Lindsay-Thorsen will discuss the menu pairings. The cost is $85, but for a sampling of fine Scotch, plus food, it's a bargain. It's a couple of days ahead of Robert Burns' Day, but there's no reason not to make it a multi-day celebration.

I asked some other whisk(e)y experts around town to suggest a single-malt worthy of the Scottish poet. Andrew Friedman at Liberty provided this quote from Burns, "Nature's mighty law is change," but added, "If he knew how today's award winning & world class Japanese whisky would cause the world to start drinking single malts & blends from somewhere besides Scotland...well, he may not have been so cavalier with such a wonderful combination of words." Friedman suggests the Yamazaki 18-year. It's about $135 a fifth, but Friedman says, "It's amazing." The more reasonable 12-year is also a great choice, and both can be tasted by the glass at Liberty.

Jamie Boudreau suggests a couple rare single malts available at his bar Canon: 1930's Haig & Haig, "Only because it came from Joe Kennedy and I feel that he and Robby would have got along famously." Boudreau also suggests Bruichladdich 1970. "It was the Scotch that really got me into whisky, and it won not only whisky of the year, but also spirit of the year." And finally, Boudreau also recommends a Japanese whisky. "The Hibiki 12-year. While not a Scotch, I love to remind the Scots that they aren't the only ones making great single malts in this day and age."

What will be in your glass on Robert Burns' Day?

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