Whether you have Scottish heritage, love the Scottish highlands, or simply relish the chance to enjoy Scottish food, drink, history or culture, Burns Night can be an amazing celebration to toast all things Scottish.
Held annually on 25 January, Burns Night conjures up images of cosying up around a fire, enjoying traditional Scottish fare and devouring a deliciously warming whisky. However, many of us may have forgotten the origins of the historical supper that has been passed down through many generations.
Join us in exploring the cultural significance of Burns Night and helping you pair your evening with the perfect whisky-based cocktail.
What is Burns Night?
Burns Night is celebrated in Scotland every year to honour the life and legacy of the legendary poet Robert Burns, renowned as one of the world’s greatest poets and founder of the Romantic movement. Held either on or around the 25th of January, which was Burns' birthday, the day also celebrates Burns' contribution to Scottish culture with the song Auld Lang Syne.
Synonymous with the end of the festive season, people tend to gather at dinners, parties and events to enjoy a traditional Scottish meal of haggis, neeps and tatties, known as a 'Burns Supper'.
The History of Burns Night
In his lifetime, Robert Burns became a Scottish icon and a source of inspiration to the founders of Liberalism and Socialism who went on to shape the United Kingdom that we know today.
Burns is considered a revolutionary figure and is celebrated not only for his beautiful words but for his cultural significance and personality too. He was fond of writing on the topics of love and nature and explored the plight of the individual, revolutionary for his time.
As a true romantic, Burns was famous for living a poetic lifestyle - full of drinking and womanising! It was his cheeky personality, incredible talent and new way of thinking that made him a firm favourite in Scotland and later the rest of the world. In many ways, Burns could be considered one of the first celebrities in the UK. He rose from humble beginnings and created his own legacy based on merit and popularity, as opposed to birthright.
His passing on 21 July 1796 sent shock waves through Scotland, and as a result, many of his friends, family and supporters began gathering in homes and pubs to celebrate his life. From this beginning, the Burns Night tradition was born.
Burns night traditions
When it comes to celebrating Burns Night, there are several traditions that make the event so special.
It wouldn’t be Burns night without celebrating his poetry. Traditionally, The Immortal Memory, a tribute speech to celebrate the life of Robert Burns and remember all that he did for Scotland, is performed by an invited speaker. This speech can often be lengthy, lasting about 20-25 minutes and is followed by a toast to Burns’ enduring spirit.
Speaking of drinks, it wouldn’t be a proper Scottish celebration or Burns Night without the mention of whisky. A staple part of Scottish culture, having a glass or two of whisky to celebrate is a must. Here at NIO Cocktails, we have several pre-mixed whisky cocktail gift sets featuring 4 wonderful cocktails from award-winning whiskey brands to savour and enjoy, such as Singleton Scotch Whisky Cocktails.
A Burns Supper (Haggis included) is the traditional way to spend the evening with loved ones. Traditionally the Selkirk Grace is said and the dinner of Scottish fare follows. However, we’re all for making your own traditions, so if there’s a particular dish you’d love to try with a bit of Scottish flair, then that is to be encouraged.
Auld Lang Syne
The traditional celebrations include the song Auld Lang Syne (written by none other than Robert Burns). The host is to give thanks and play the Auld Lang Syne tune to which everyone sings along to the famous lyrics ‘For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet, for days of auld lang syne’, while holding hands and making a big circle.
Then, on the line ‘And there’s a hand’ it’s time for everyone to cross over their arms and move in a circular motion in a big circle. If you haven’t got your bagpipes to hand, don’t fret. The upbeat Slade version of Auld Lang Syne should get people on their feet after a few delicious whisky cocktails!
Whisky Cocktails for Burns Night
There are plenty of delightful whisky-based cocktails to enjoy and celebrate with, including:
For over 200 years, the classic Old Fashioned cocktail has remained popular and is one of the world's favourite drinks. With its dark and delicious flavour that combines whisky with aromatic and orange bitters and sugar, it's not hard to understand why it's so irresistible.
You just can't beat the distinct tang and rich warmth of the whisky sour cocktail. Blending bourbon with citric acid, liquid sugar and a dash of water, this cocktail is great to serve at any Burns Night celebration.
For a more sophisticated tipple, the Manhattan cocktail will be your go-to. Widely regarded as one of the greatest ever cocktails, the Manhattan combines the warmth of whisky with the sweetness of vermouth to create a perfectly balanced cocktail.
If you're looking for something a little more unique to celebrate with, our signature Brown Gold cocktail offers the ideal smooth-sipping drink. Blending bourbon with vanilla liqueur, coffee liqueur, citric acid and liquid sugar, the Brown Gold is a delight for all the senses.
As a more sophisticated take on the classic Negroni cocktail, the iconic Boulevardier cocktail blends whisky with vermouth, Campari and bitters for an incredibly bold flavour. Its vibrant colour makes this cocktail one that you'll never forget.
Singleton 12-Year-Old Whisky for Burns Night
The Singleton 12-year-old single malt scotch whisky is the perfect partner for Burns Night. This light-to-medium bodied whiskey contains notes of fresh fruitiness and soft fragrances reminiscent of leather, sandalwood and vanilla. Matured in American oak casks and European oak casks, the result is an easy to enjoy single malt with fruit aromas, a sweet honeyed palate and a creamy lingering finish. The perfect match for poetry, folklore and family time.
The Singleton whisky is an authentic Scotch, created in the Scottish Highland town called Dufftown, renowned as ‘The Whisky Capital Of The World’. Our Singleton Cocktail set combines this malt like no other, with known classics. A choice of something fruitier, or something with a citrus kick - there’s something for all to share. So, although we are all currently at home, we think Burns Night is the perfect opportunity for a little celebration.
Why not create a new family Burns Night tradition that's full of whisky, poetry and Scottish foodie treats? Take your taste buds on a journey to the Scottish Highlands this Burns Night with our Singleton Plus Two Cocktail Set.