Robert Burns, still the world's most celebrated poet

For just a moment—horrors!—the wine geek within had me pondering what to drink with Haggis. A crisp, clean Riesling perhaps? Or, how about a rustic red, maybe a budget Syrah, to pick up on all those gamey sheep bits?

Thankfully, at this point, common sense (or my Scottish grandmother, from the Great Beyond) prevailed.

Sassenach!”, I’m sure I heard her hiss …

First of all, it wouldn’t be a true Burns dinner without a decent Haggis, which these days is getting harder to find. However, we’ve done well by North Van’s British Butcher in the past, which just happens to have Haggis available year round—should you feel inclined to make it part of your regular diet. (We checked: they have “a few hundred pounds still” but they are “going fast.”)

Then you’ll need some serious whisky for the address and the various toasts.

We like some hefty peat—and it definitely has to be single malt, by the way—so we tend to steer to one of our lifelong faves, such as shy and retiring Lagavulin or Talisker.

As to what to actually drink with your Haggis, it might sound like heresy but if you plan to be able to stand, not only for all the toasts but also at the end of the night, a good beer chaser makes sense.

Heather ale, from a 4000 year old recipe

This year it could well be Fraoch Heather Ale (BCLS $4.30, 500 ml.), which we discovered at Monday’s IVSA Vancouver tasting, and which we think would be a good fit with what can sometimes be a strongly flavoured dish.

Aside from reputedly being brewed since 2,000 BC (it’s true: they have carbon dated bottle caps …), this ale’s quite intriguing, as flowering heather is added to the brew, which is later also cooled on a bed of fresh flowers. Floral, though not as much as you might think, it’s actually quite herbed and spicy. Then again, we’re thinking they might have tweaked the recipe just a tad since the Celts.

It should be just the ticket with the ‘Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!”

Happy Burns Night!

And if you’re wondering about the origins of Haggis …

Related: Majestic haggis of the glens proves elusive for US tourists

Wild Haggis by StaraBlazkova (licenced under CC 3.0 Attribution Share-Alike licence)