Scottish Burns Supper and Whisky Tasting at Brandywine River Museum of Art

By Taylor Smith

Each year, Scots from around the world gather in the darkest days of winter for a traditional evening meal and celebration to commemorate the birthday of one of their favorite native sons, Robert Burns. Born on a tenant farm on January 25, 1759 in the village of Alloway, near Ayr, Burns’s early life was marked by back-breaking work on a succession of small family farms. With an ear for Scottish folk songs and traditional stories passed down by his mother, Burns grew to become a widely-respected poet and lyricist.

Dying an untimely death at the age of 37, Burns’ friends and countrymen began gathering for a meal on his birthday to toast to his “immortal memory.” The tradition has continued for over 200 years and has spread to every country where Scots have settled.

The Brandywine Burns Supper at Brandywine River Museum of Art on Friday, January 24 at 7 p.m. consists of a hearty meal of traditional Scottish fare, including haggis and a tasting of a Belhaven ale and three single malt whiskies. A bagpiper will perform stirring Scottish music to accompany the haggis as it is brought to the table, followed by an authentic Scottish rendition of “Address to a Haggis.” For the uninitiated, haggis is made of sheep heart, liver, and lungs that are cooked along with celery, beef fat, ground oats, and spices. Similar in flavor to a crumbly sausage, the dish is often served with neeps (mashed turnips) and tatties (mashed potatoes).

Brandywine Board Member Jack Hines will guide guests in single malt whiskey tastings carefully paired with each course. Traditionally, Burns suppers conclude with a singing of “Auld Lang Syne”:

For auld lang syne, my jo,

For auld lang syne,

We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet

For auld lang syne.

The Museum galleries will open an hour before dinner (at 6 p.m.) for guests to enjoy the collections and view three N.C. Wyeth paintings used to illustrate The Scottish Chiefs, a classic novel recounting the life of William Wallace, which was transformed into the Academy Award-winning Braveheart.

Tickets are $100 for members and $110 for non-members. To register, visit https://bit.ly/2OE8Vqg.

Alexander Nasmyth’s portrait of Robert Burns (1828)