”A man perpetually in the paroxysm and fears of inebriety is like a half-drowned stupid wretch condemned to labor unceasingly in water; but a now-and-then tribute to Bacchus is like the cold bath, bracing and invigorating.” So said Robert Burns, a man celebrated annually in Scotland and around the world on January 25th.
Burns was born and lived much of his life in Ayr, a place Corney & Barrow know well, as the location for it’s only Scottish shop. Housed beneath this treasure are cellars built more than 250 years ago, yet still serving their intended purpose to keep their contents housed in perfect condition.
We recently recreated how wine and spirits would have first made their way to Ayr with a visit from a tall ship ‘The Blyth’. Moored in the harbour to the delight of locals and invited customers, several wines were sampled on board, many exclusive to Corney & Barrow. You can get a flavor of the festivities here.
While whisky is the traditional drink on Burns night, the historic anniversary of the cellars in Ayr uncovered a likely link between Robert Burns, the excise man and the fortunes of the then fledging wine business. The west coast of Scotland was, at that time, the perfect smuggling ground, with many landing highly profitable cargo on its beaches as a way to increase their profits and dodge their dues. Burns and his fellow tax collectors would certainly have been kept busy.
For those not familiar with the Burns night tradition, and keen to join the fun, you’ll need a haggis, neeps (turnip), tatties (potatoes) and a fine Scottish whisky to wash it all down.
Dessert is a mixture of toasted oats, whipped cream, raspberries and honey called Cranachan. Then gather some friends, (who should all wear some tartan), to share the feast, recite Burns poetry and perhaps even indulge in some dancing (better known north of the border as a ceilidh). It’s the perfect way to beat the January blues – so Slainte! (which is the Scottish way of saying cheers).