Burns Night

Robert BurnsCrack open the whisky, bring out the bagpipes and get ready to pipe in the haggis – it’s time to celebrate Scotland’s favourite son.

The Burns Night supper is an institution of Scottish life: an annual celebration of the life of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet. It can range from an informal gathering of family and friends to a formal dinner full of pomp and circumstance – and dressing up.

A traditional Burns Supper centres around the entrance of the haggis, ‘Great chieftain o’the pudding-race’, which is carried in on a large platter to the skirl of the bagpipes. The host reads the ‘Address to a Haggis’, an ode written by Burns in praise of the Scottish dish, and on cue the haggis is ceremonially sliced into, ‘trenching its gushing entrails’!

The audience joins in the toast, raising a glass and proclaiming ‘The Haggis!’, then it’s time to serve it along with its traditional accompaniments, neeps (turnip or swede) and tatties, and sometimes a splash of whisky sauce. While you could go out and try to catch your own haggis, we’d recommend you pay a visit to your local butcher who’ll be able to provide you with one; vegetarian haggis is also widely available from supermarkets. You can find our recipe for Haggis, Neeps & Tatties here.

Haggis is usually preceded by Scotch broth or smoked salmon, while traditional clootie dumplings or a classic cranachan are the general choice for afters. The drink of the night is whisky – of course – either a single malt or a blend, or even a whisky cocktail, but a robust red wine works equally well, as does Scotland’s other national drink, Irn Bru!

The meal itself is generally followed by an in-depth examination of available malts, after which a rousing chorus of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ rounds off proceedings before guests make their merry way into the night.erve

Address to a Haggis

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

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

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An' cut you up wi' ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin', rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! 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 owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad make her spew
Wi' perfect sconner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckles as wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash;
His nieve a nit;
Thro' blody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

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

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!
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