2021 Burns Tasting

The Selkirk Grace (Andrew Braun)

Some hae meat an canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae let the Lord be thankit.

Address to a Haggis (Stephen Brown)

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak yer place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my airm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dicht,
An cut you up wi ready slicht,
Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
Like onie ditch;
And then, Oh what a glorious sicht,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmaist, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
‘Bethankit’ hums.

Is there that ower his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit:
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
Oh how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his wallie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if Ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

Good luck to you and your honest, plump face,
Great chieftain of the sausage race!
Above them all you take your place,
Gut, stomach-lining, or intestines:
You’re well worthy of a grace
As long as my arm.

The overloaded platter there you fill,
Your buttocks shaped like a a distant hilltop,
Your skewer would help to mend a mill
In time of need,
While through your pores your juices drip
Like liquid gold.

His knife he wipes with rustic labour,
And cuts you up with easy skil,
Digging a great trench in your bright moist innards,
Like any ditch;
And then, Oh what a glorious sight,
Steaming, warm, with good rich smells!

Then, spoon for spoon, they eagerly eat:
Every man for himself, on they drive,
Till in due course all of their well-swollen bellies
Are stretched like drums;
Then old head of the table, most likely to burst,
‘The grace!’ hums.

Is it possible that anyone, over his French “ragout”,
Or his “olio” that would sicken a sow,
Or his “fricassee” that would make her vomit
With perfect disgust,
Could look down in a sneering, scornful way
On such a dinner as this?

Poor devil! Just look at him eating his trash,
As feeble as a withered reed,
His skinny leg, thin as the end of a whip,
His dainty fist as small as a nut:
How unfit is he to play a dashing part
In battles at sea or on the land!

But consider the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The earth trembles beneath his heavy tread,
Put a blade into his might fist,
And he’ll make it whistle;
Shearing off opponents’ legs and arms, and heads
Like cutting off the heads of thistles.

You powers, that make mankind your care,
And distribute food among them,
Old Scotland wants no watery dishes
That splash around in bowls:
But, if you want her prayers of gratitude,
Give her a Haggis!

For more translations, see Douglas Gibson’s notes:
BURNS-LOVERS ALERT — “THE ADDRESS TO A HAGGIS” TRANSLATED
Toast to the Lassies (Claude Hurtubise)
Reply to the Toast to the Lassies (Amanda MacPhail)
The Tasting

89.11 A kraftwerk orange (64.1% ABV)
Tomintoul Distillery, founded 1964 in Ballindaloch, Speyside
An inviting initial nose of dusty malt bins, barley sugars, lemon cough sweets and putty greeted the Panel. Some softer tones like café latte, ground almonds, coffee and walnut cake and caramelizing muscovado sugar followed on. An impressive heft and complexity we noted. With reduction we got notes of bitter marmalade, olive oil cake, delicate tobacco leaf, satsuma peel and orange travel sweets. The lighter scent of geraniums in a potting shed.
Neat, the palate was nutty, rich, and rather heavy for this particular distillery. Peanut brittle, caraway, toasted sunflower seeds and toffee popcorn were all notes. Scotch broth with a burlap garnish! Water enhanced the herbaceous aspects and added corn starch, canola oil, gorse flowers, hot wort and freshly made muesli with dried fruits. ($131.99)

39.194 Time flies and fruit flies (57.8% ABV)
Linkwood Distillery, founded 1821 in Elgin, Speyside
For a refill cask there is a surprising initial hit of fresh oak, Juicy Fruit chewing gum and dried banana chips. Lots of mango, pineapple, apple schnapps and fresh pears. Additional notes of toffee and coconut husk pop up as well. A wonderfully attractive aroma so far. With water the age starts to show and there’s polished wood, dusty library books, dried exotic fruits and hints of pine forest petrichor and coconut oils. In the mouth there’s a massive wave of fruity intensity.
Bold and mature beyond its years. Rancio, gentle waxiness, hot buttered scones, barley sugars, ginger sweets and hay lofts. Reduction evolves things towards honey and lemon tea, caramelized oatmeal, Belgian waffles drizzled with golden syrup and pink wafer biscuits. Marvellous stuff! ($155.99)

48.110 Sooooternes! (56.6% ABV)
Balmenach Distillery, founded 1824 in Cromdale, Speyside
Sweetness strikes first: milk chocolate, honey cake, icing sugar, assorted sweet dessert wines, mushroom powder, old wine cellars, aged Tokaji, fragrant waxes, herbal toothpaste, sheep wool, praline, cafe latte and Brazil nut. A little reduction brings out mulling spices, mincemeat, sultanas stewed in old Cognac, fruit loaf, pecan pie, pomegranate molasses, and posh custard made with old Marsala wine.
The neat palate is full of sweetened Earl Grey tea, molten fudge, lavender icing, pine resin, tea tree oil, fruit extracts, herbal infused oils, old Madeira, sponge cake and glazed fruits. With water there’s mint fudge, maraschino cherry juices, bitter orange peel, Manhattan cocktail, olive oil cake, blackcurrant wine gums, furniture polish, sweet waxes and elderflower cordial. Matured in a bourbon hogshead for 13 years before transfer to a 1st fill ex-Sauternes barrique. ($156.99)

36.1310.192 Deep and complex, sweet and earthy (60.8% ABV)
Bunnahabhain Distillery, founded 1881 near Port Askaig, Islay
The initial nose of desiccated coconut and pipe tobacco gradually opens to lemon meringue pie, apricot flan and rose bay willow-herb in wasteland, with background hints of wood, liquorice and tar. The deep, complex palate combines sweet and earthy notes; butterscotch, dark chocolate, caramelized bananas, Eccles cakes and ginger snaps, with tarry ship’s timbers and salty pork scratchings.
Water shifts the nose to straw, dried seaweed, celery, pepper, Tunnock’s Snowballs and new fence timbers. The palate becomes easier and sweeter – coffee and walnut fudge, toffee, brandy snaps and dried dates. After seven years in ex-bourbon wood we transferred this into a 2nd fill moscatel hogshead. ($168.99)

66.144 Peatabix (60.8% ABV)
Ardmore Distillery, founded 1898 in Aberdeenshire, Highlands
A potent and classic example thought the Panel. The nose displays big and uncompromising notes of smoked applewood, bacon fat, BBQ char, bitumen, damp earth and fresh rosemary. Develops an intense farmyard edge, full of hay loft, cow shed and old tool boxes. Some WD40 and burlap as well. Water gives honey roast parsnip, smoked flowers and patchouli oil with a hint of myrrh.
The mouth explodes with soft, organic peats, hickory smoke, smoked oatmeal and a bruising
minerality. Notes of peated muesli, smoked butter and cheese scones. With water there is tar resin, sorrel, bay leaf, rhubarb jelly, cured game meats and gentian eau de vie. A wonderful wee monster! ($159.99)

29.257 Out of left field (45.8%)
Laphroaig Distillery, founded 1815 near Port Ellen, Islay
This one is really out of left field – unexpected and unusual but we all gave it thumbs up. The nose has fruity perfumes riding a tame wave of clean smoke – tar on a raspberry bush, fruity hookahs, salted blackcurrant, crab claws with grapefruit, waxed lemons and melissa – oh, and hospital corridors.
The palate is a sharp, citric smoke bomb; the usual soot, tar, ash and liquorice co-existing with astringent fruits – salty lemon, passion fruit, crab apples and blackcurrant; something slightly mentholic and medicinal, and then a seriously dry finish of ginger, wasabi, leather, humbugs and liquorice. Single cask samples do not always conform to the template. After 19 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead we transferred this whisky to an Oloroso hogshead for the remainder of its maturation. ($514.99)

Auld Lang Syne (led by Stephen Brown)

In Memoriam of Fred David Brown

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stoup!
and surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin’ auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin’ auld lang syne.

CHORUS

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak’ a right gude-willie waught,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

CHORUS

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS