Branch On Fire (Burns Night): Lagavulin, Offerman Edition

January 25 is the birthday of famed Scot poet Robert Burns. And well, they celebrate. Food, poetry…and scotch whisky. I’m not Scottish, as far as I know, but hey, that just happens to be three things I can absolutely get behind celebrating.

Flaviar, the whiskey club I joined late last year, even had a virtual event built around it. Ultimately, it was an attempt to sale some a well known peated whiskey, but it was also suppose to feature a poetry reading and tasting notes an a couple of scotches. I say suppose to because the audio wound up being awful and unintelligible.

Still, I had poured my whiskey before the start, so a tasting was in order. And what whisky would I choose for Burns Night? Among my collection, there was but one obvious choice.

Lagavulin: Offerman Edition.

And why is this an obvious choice? Because my first exposure to Robert Burns was through Offerman, and readers of this blog, both of you, who have similar taste to me may have had the same and not known it.

O, Were My Love Yon Lilac Fair“, by Robert Burns

O were my love yon Lilac fair,
With purple blossoms to the Spring,
And I, a bird to shelter there,
When wearied on my little wing!
How I would mourn when it was torn
By Autumn wild, and Winter rude!
But I would sing on wanton wing,
When youthful May its bloom renewed.

O if my love were yon red rose,
That grows upon the castle wall;
And I myself a drop of dew,
Into her bonny breast to fall!
O there, beyond expression blest,
I’d feast on beauty all the night;
Sealed on her silk-soft folds to rest,
Till flied away by Phoebus’ light!

That is the poem Offerman’s Ron Swanson sits and reads in Parks and Recreation after Leslie Knope sends him unknowingly to the sweetest place on earth, the Lagavulin Distillery.

Courtesy: NBC

The Whisky

Lagavulin 16 is the standard I hold scotches too. There are more expensive and complex ones. There are much cheaper ones too, but Lagavulin 16 is my go-to and the one I measure others against.

The Offerman Edition is aged 11 years, and was selected by Offerman after trying many different formulas for his namesake whisky. Nick is a beer man. His brother even has a brewery, but he has become a scotch man as well through the Swanson character. This whisky is not as peated (smoky) as the 16, which allows some of the sweetness to actually shine through. It says it has some hints of apple as well, but I don’t get much of that. I do get sweet bread in the mouth. So you get peat on the nose, sweet on the tongue and then peat again in the throat. If you don’t like “smoke bombs”, this might be more approachable. Me? I like the peat. Still, this is a worthy alternative.

In fact, with the cost of the 16 going up in my area recently, the Offerman Edition is now $20-30 cheaper. At the sime price, I’m buying the 16. But at that difference, I probably actually be reaching for the branded version. Getting to stare at all that rugged handsomeness on the box and bottle is just an added bonus.

Rating: 92

The Poetry Event

Like I said, it wound up being a flop, mostly due to sound issues, as in the lack thereof. Still, I was able to make out enough to hear they were reading Burns’ Scotch Drink, which is appropriate even if cliche. Since I couldn’t hear it, I headed to Youtube for a dramatic reading, complete with some serious Scottish accent.

And if you want to play along at home, head here.

So, who was Robert Burns?

There is a quick 3-minute answer:

Or a 90-minute answer:

Whiskey Ratings

93: Lagavulin 11 Offerman Edition
92: Jefferson’s Reserve Very Old.
90: High West Campfire, Few Rye
87: Breckenridge Bourbon
85: Wolfburn Aurora
83: Buchanan’s Deluxe 12

Gin Ratings

88: Dogfish Head Compelling Gin


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