Over the last few weeks, I had the chance to team up with the amazing team of The famous Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival around an exciting mixology project: creating a cocktail based on a Robert Burns poem !
“Dram O’ Shanter, The Speyside Grace and Best Laid Drams – the most famous works of Scotland’s national bard have been immortalised in the form of cocktails by the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.
Festival organisers asked some of the world’s leading mixologists and whisky connoisseurs to blend together whisky and words in toast to the life of poet Robert Burns and the legacy he left behind.” (Wait, I do not consider myself as a mixologist at all, so you’ll see, my concoction is pretty simple to make at home ;))
Six of the bard’s best-known poems and songs have been given a dram-atic makeover – Auld Dram Syne (Auld Lang Syne) That’s mine!, Dram O’ Shanter (Tam O’ Shanter); Ae Fond Nip (Ae Fond Kiss); A Dram’s A Dram For a’ That (A Man’s A Man For a’ That); The Speyside Grace (The Selkirk Grace); and Best Laid Drams (Best Laid Plans).
Another of the new drinks is called Freedom an’ Whisky Gang Thegither – a phrase used by Burns in The Author’s Earnest Cry And Prayer, a satire he penned in 1786 on the government’s taxation of whisky.
The recipes offer a contemporary take on the Bard’s work, with some of the more unusual ingredients including smoked honey, detox tea (that’s mine!) and one of Speyside’s other great exports – shortbread from Walkers of Aberlour. The base ingredients are Speyside whisky brands, all of which are leading partners of the Festival.
“Whisky and Robert Burns are perhaps Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world. Whisky is synonymous with warmth and friendship in just the same way as Auld Lang Syne – sung across the globe at New Year and other times of celebration – reminds us of spending time with family and friends,” James, chairman of the festival, says.
“Burns referred to whisky – or guid Scotch drink as he called it – as being his muse and it features in many of his works. The popularity of whisky and Burns have both stood the test of time, so it seems fitting for us to pay tribute to these two great Scottish exports in a unique and interesting way.
“There was a time when whisky was considered an old man’s drink but these contemporary and modern cocktails completely dispel that myth. The Festival has been introducing whisky to new and younger audiences for many years, and I hope those who are passionate about whisky – whether they have it neat or in a cocktail – will give these recipes a try.”
The unique range of cocktails was launched just ahead of Burns Night – the anniversary of the poet’s birth – as the Festival prepares to launch tickets for the 2018 event. The Festival takes place from May 3 to 7, with almost 500 events taking place over the five days across Speyside.
My Cocktail – The Auld Dram Syne !
Auld Lang Syne is linked to New Year’s Eve, this moment between the old and the new year, I therefore chose the Champagne glass as it is the ultimate celebration glass and decided to combine rich festive fruity flavours such as Cranberry and Hazelnut (that you can also find in the whisky’s aromatic profile) with the Roïboos tea to create a sweet but “light” cocktail that wouldn’t have the same amount of calories as a donut 😉 –
New Year often resonates with “detox”, “healthy lifestyle” and “Dry January”, the tea plays this “New Year” role, but is also a beautiful way in my opinion to enhance the flavours of the whisky, both drinks offer a diverse array of flavours and go very well with each other (in case you ignore it, whisky is often consumed as a mixed drink with iced green tea in China for instance ;))
As the Aberlour A Bunadh is a Cask Strength whisky, I chose not to add another alcohol-based ingredient in this cocktail so that the whisky can be the sole real “star” and can fully express itself, all ingredients are simply here to complement the whisky.
Again, I’m no mixologist, so this should be quite easy to make at home!
2.5cl Aberlour A Bunadh
2cl of Cranberry syrup
Put in shaker with ice, give it a good shake and strain in a Champagne glass previously decorated with Hazelnut powder.
Top up with iced Roïboos tea (vanilla flavour if you can find some), decorate with orange zest and enjoy 😀