Burns Night

So Burns Night is tomorrow.

Yeah, that’s a thing. But not in America.

Robert Burns is the national poet for Scotland. That in itself doesn’t sound so important, I mean how may times have we set aside anything for a poet in this country. Remember that Edgar Allan Poe parade you went to as a youth? Fond memories of having that Emily Dickinson Day off from school?

Yeah, me neither.

But Mr. Burns is a huge deal in wee olde Scotland; mainly because Burns was a large voice in the opposition of English rule in Scotland during the late 1700’s. As you probably know, England and Scotland have quite the insetting history, dating back all the way to that William Wallace Braveheart stuff in the early 1300s.

Anyway, point being:

  • Burns in Scotland = big deal

  • Burns in America = not a big deal (although we sing his poetry every New Year’s Eve)

But…there is one caveat……

  • Burns in America to whisky drinkers = big deal

Yes my friend, Burns Night is to Scotch lovers as St Patrick’s Day is to red-headed Bostonians: an excuse to drink.

So being a person who always goes out of his way to not turn down a celebratory dram of quality scotch, we headed down to our favorite watering hole, the Barrel Thief, to attend a wee Scotch bottle opening/shindig in honor of Mr. Burns on Sunday.

And what did we find?

Well, first off we found some quality Scotch at a good price (just the way Burns would have wanted it). But we also found some friends there.

Other than the host, these are not like the type of friends you call or invite over; we barely knew these people. But yes, they are still friends. Why is that?

Because that is what whisky does; brings people together.

It really is a magical elixir that just opens the door for people to be social and amiable to each other.

Now I know what you are thinking: ‘of course whisky does that, you idiot! It is alcohol, and that just loosens people’s inhibitions’.

And, despite the name-calling, that’s not a bad point.

But I disagree with that notion. Sure, there is an element of loosening inhibitions in this, but it really isn’t the primary reason. Alcohol can make friends out of strangers, but it also can make enemies out of friends. What whisky does is it gives us all a common foundation for interesting conversation, for you see all of us who treat whisky like the way we treat whisky have a respect for it. We are not simply guzzling it down like a feral Frat boy; we are tasting the libation, analyzing it, and sharing with the others around us. And even though that sounds geeky and dull, it really isn’t. We bond through this, and from that we all become closer. It really is a great thing.

So this Tuesday, raise a Scotch with me, to celebrate Robert Burns, the philandering anti-establishment Scotch lover, with some friends or strangers that soon can become friends.

Because if it wasn’t for Robert Burns, we would have to pick some other Scotsman to do this for.