Five top tips for Burns Night

When is Burns Night?

Burns Night is usually celebrated on, or around, January 25th, to mark Robert Burn’s birthday which was January 25th 1759.  As per tradition, Burns Night falls on Saturday 25 January in 2020.

What is Burns Night?

So what exactly is Burns Night?  Well, Burns Night is an annual celebration of the life and works of Scottish poet Robert Burns.  Robert Burns is arguably Scotland’s best known poet, or “bard”, and wrote many famous works - such as Auld Lang Syne.  The occasion is usually celebrated with a party traditionally known as “Burns Supper”, something that is held both in Scotland and around the whole world - with events ranging from small gatherings around the home table, through to large, formal, dinner parties.  Its always a lot of fun, and to help you celebrate in style (and as easily as possible!), here are five top tips for Burns Night.

1: who should I invite to Burns Night?

Well this is the easiest of the questions, as there is no right answer!  Invite your friends, family, colleagues or acquitances: whomever you like.  Invite one person to share a dram with, or 12 people to fill a large table: completely up to you.  Having said that, what might be fun is to consider what will bind everyone together… are they family?  Are they whisky lovers?  Can a few of them recite some Burns poetry?  But, ultimately, just get a few people you want to see together - and enjoy the evening.

2: what should I drink on Burns Night?

Any Scott would answer in a flash: whisky.  The national tipple of Scotland is, indeed, a most fitting drink to celebrate the national poet of Scotland.  There’s a world of choice as to which whisky you could pick; indeed, it might be fun to get a couple of different whiskies so you can compare and contrast them with your friends, pair them with the different food courses, or hold an importu whisky tasting.  But to get you started, here are a few suggestions:

Glenmorangie Lasanta or Quinta Ruban.  Something for the sweet / fruity lovers - Glenmorangie has some wonderful cask finishes that pair well with meaty haggis.

The Single Cask Craigellachie 10 year old.  Something for the whisky geeks and the desert lovers - this is a single cask whisky making it unique, different and a talking point for your guests.  The vanilla, toffee and apples would work well with desert.

Ardbeg An Oa or Uigeadail.  Something for the peat lovers - Ardbeg is big, smokey, and robust and would pair well with the cheese board traditionally served at the end of Burns Supper.

3: what is the best whisky glass?

You might already have some whisky glasses, in which case you can tick this off the list straightaway.  But if you don’t, this might be a good opportunity to invest in some.  Glencairns, for example, have been specifically designed to help you get the most out of your whisky.  By carefully concentrating the nose (scent) of the whisky in its narrow neck it maximises the amount of flavour you’ll be able to pick out.  They’re also a cool addition to the dinner table - your guests may not have seen Glencairn glasses if they’re new to whisky, and therefore they’re a nice detail to set the evening apart as something special.  What’s even better is that if you buy from Glencairn’s website between today and 1st February 2020 you can get 20% off your order by using this Glencairn discount code rabbieburns20.  We love a good deal.

4: what should I cook for Burns Supper?

So you’ve invited your guests, you’ve got your whisky sorted and your glasses ready - what next?  Food.  Celebrations for Burns Night typically take the form of a dinner, known as Burns Supper.  I bet you can guess whats for the main course, but here’s a suggested menu (which you can adapt however you like):

Starter: cock-a-leekie soup

Fish: smoked Scottish salmon 

Main: haggis, neeps (mashed turnips) and tatties (mashed potatoes)

Desert: Typsy Laird (a Scottish sherry trifle)

Cheese: an assortment of cheese and biscuits to enjoy with a nightcap

5: what are the Burns Night toasts?

For the final flourish to impress your guests and to live the real atmosphere of a Burns Night celebration, there needs to be the right toasts.  Now you could either do these yourself, or you could share them out amongst your guests and get everyone involved.  And don’t worry, it doesn’t need to be a daunting affair - just throw yourselves into it and enjoy the words and the laughter.  To give you a hand, we’ve written a whole article of Burns Night toasts which you can read here.


Whatever you do, we hope you enjoy celebrating Burns Night - and we join you in raising a dram to the Bard.  Slainte mhath.

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