Haggis and whisky are the heart and soul of Scotland radiating a passion into that entire encounter of rich and sublime ingredients which come together in these two national icons. Whisky has developed over the hundreds of years by the local distillers who have nurtured an appreciation and through understanding of their regional soils and water to create this amber nectar. Whisky is a serious affair for all who are involved in this business, from the distillers to the merchants and even the humble bar man in a local pub, knowledge and understanding of this fine spirit is akin to being in possession of a sacred elixir. How to drink whisky is an important dilemma as no one outside Scotland would wish to offend the Scots over such an historical etiquette. Water or no water is usually the question, and it is aft talked about that single malt whisky’s will “open out” when a little water is added but blended whisky mixed with something sugary and fizzy is pretty much viewed as scorn free.
Haggis being the heart of Scotland brings people together in a devoutly warming and reflective way, as if you were seated together beside a rare roaring fire, dram of whisky in hand and banter a flowing. Scotland’s love of haggis and whisky are synonymous with bravery. The harsh concoction which comes together to make haggis is lung, liver and heart of a sheep which is boiled together then minced with beef trim, suet, nutmeg, white pepper and oatmeal which is then pushed into the lining of a sheep’s stomach and further boiled. The rich pungent aroma from the offal which certainly offends many who are unfamiliar with it, yet it is the waft of pure delight for a Scot; then when washed down by this intense liquid golden tipple that spreads fire to every extremity of the body is a culinary delight for sure but certainly not for the feint hearted or feeble minded!
So what of haggis and whisky matching? Some modern day school of thoughts would prefer to see haggis consumed with wine, say a gurtwertztraminer, as it makes haggis a lot less daunting to approach. But generally it is whisky that is served with haggis and many a connoisseur of malts would prefer the iconic Talisker from the Isle of Skye as a firm favourite as it has a distinct pepperiness on the finish but other runners up would be some of the more “sherried” styles indicative of Speyside such as the 18yr old Glenlivet whose hints of spice and nuttiness definitely works well with offal.
Haggis and whisky are nothing unless significantly allied with the great bard himself Rabbie Burns. On 25th January is Scotland’s culinary feast which is a grand and theatrical affair punctuated by poetry and boasts to be a great evening of national pride for the uninitiated.