Burns Burns Burns. Tonight we celebrate the birth of the most famous Scotsman, Rabbie Burns himself. Poet, exciseman, a founder the romantic movement, its always a cracking night. Personally, I never managed to make it to a Burns in my time in Scotland, I was behind the bar for all of them. Better late than never however, and tonight was the L Mulligans Grocer Burns Night, presented by the wonder Paul Tuohy.
A rousing night, great beer, the old pipes (once a year is enough), haggis, and a fine selection of whiskies. Sit down drink however, was what I was told is the “Highland Gringo”, a twist on a sour utilising Scotch, Tequila, pineapple juice, lime and egg white. Honestly, its pretty damn nice. But you don’t go to a Doctor to do your taxes, and you don’t come here to read about what the Gringos are up to, so here we are with the Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban.
Established in 1843 by William Matheson and reknown as one of the greats of the industry, Glenmorangie is perhaps best known for their selection of cask experiments and finishes, brought out by the marvellous Bill Lumsden and Brendan Mccaran (thanks for all the drams gents). With the tallest stills in Scotland and a wide variety of casks, these boys have brought out classics such as the Lasanta, Original, Signet and the Milsean. The list goes on, but the Quinta Ruban holds a special place in my heart. Port cask, Port cask finishes, Port itself I love, so the Quinta Ruban was a welcome sight on Burns nights. Aged in American White Oak (ex-bourbon) for ten years and then finished for two years in ex-port cask. Quinta here refers to the area of Portugal where the casks hail from, and Ruban is the Scottish term for Ruby.
Oooohhhh, its a good nose. Sticky plum pudding, strawberry jam, rich cherries left out in the sun. The ex-bourbon gives us a bed of marshmallows and marzipan to lie on, with extra spicing of pepper, rhubard and nutmeg sprinkled over top. Melted caramel, hot treacle, perfume and traces of old port soaked tobacco. Walnuts, oranges, peaches, everything flows out of the glass with glorious exuberance, filled with joy at the fact that you get to drink it.
You would think the palate would be a stark repeat, but no; while we see those walnuts, plums and thick jam return the oranges have been dried to perfection, oaky vanilla joining hands with dancing chocolate, and then a whopping turkish delight wraps everything up in a neatly packaged, well package. The spice is cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper and is reminiscent of a big barossa shiraz, full of slightly over pressed coffee beans. The finish is long and graceful, the chocolate and oak melting with the nutmeg to grace us with a silken coated mouth feel, walnuts falling onto the tongue. And then we need to go back for more, and it all comes back again.
I love this whisky. I know it’s been praised from here to everywhere, but it really is brilliant. I get to have a lovely whisky, paired with brilliant food, and the night isn’t even over, but it’s not all about that. The songs sung and the camaraderie has made this a night. So lets all raise a dram to Rabbie Burns.
And did I enjoy this Burns night?
It was all worth it.