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Gaelic Pure Scotch Whisky and Haggis

Haggis and whisky, a marriage made in Scotland!

Haggis is a famous Scottish savoury pudding containing sheeps heart, liver and lungs with minced onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock. The term to describe the main meaty ingredients of haggis is 'Sheeps Pluck'. This is a collection of the animals organs, usually consisting of the heart, liver and kidney, but may also include other internal organs. The haggis is traditionally encased in the animals stomach and simmered for approximately three hours. Thankfully, most modern shop bought haggis is prepared in a sausage casing rather than an actual stomach.

Even the chefs bible, the Larousse Gastronomique states that, "Although its description is not immediately appealing, haggis has an excellent nutty texture and delicious savoury flavour".

Haggis is one of those dishes you'll either love or hate, but in Scotland it is considered the national dish and is as typically Scottics as the whisky of the Highlands. The Scots poet Robert Burns wrote the Address to a Haggis of 1787. Haggis is traditionally served in Scotland with "neeps and tatties", known elsewhere as turnips and potatoes. These vegetables are boiled and mashed separately and a dram of Scotch whisky is also included to make the meal a real Scottish treat. A traditional Burns supper will always have the haggis, neeps and tatties and a glass of pure Scotch whisky. The Master of Ceremonies will also recite the poem below by Robert Burns.

Address to a Haggis of 1787 by Robert Burns

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the pudding-race!
Aboon them a' yet tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o'a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin was help to mend a mill
In time o'need,
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An' cut you up wi' ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin', rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
Bethankit! hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad make her spew
Wi' perfect sconner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckles as wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash;
His nieve a nit;
Thro' blody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll mak it whissle;
An' legs an' arms, an' hands will sned,
Like taps o' trissle.

Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer
Gie her a haggis!

So where does haggis come from

Some food scholars have suggested that haggis was invented as a way of cooking offal near to where the animal being hunted was killed. The reason for the speady consumption was that the lungs and other offal were quick to go off and would be spoiled if kept until the hunters return home. The hunters could chop up the lungs and stuff the stomach lining with them and whatever other fillers might have been growing nearby, then boiling the whole thing. The chances are that they could have constructed some sort of vessel made from the animals hide, thus ensuring no part of the animal would go to waste.

Some believe haggis is a real animal, or have they had too much whisky?

An old story has been doing the rounds for many years that a haggis is a small Scottish animal with legs on one side longer than those on the other, so that it can run around the steep hills of the Scottish Highlands without falling over. The Hebridean Haggis is believed by some to be the original native species. The Lewis Haggis is different from the Haggis on the mainland of Scotland as its legs are all the same length. Every year, many foreign visitors to Scotland believe that the haggis is a real animal and you can actually go on haggis shoots.

As mentioned above, haggis is traditionally served as part of the Burns supper on the week of January 25, when Scotlands national poet, Robert Burns, is commemorated. When Burnss was alive, haggis was a pretty common dish for the poor people of Scotland as it was nourishing yet very cheap, being made from leftover parts of sheep that would otherwise be thrown away.

Haggis in Scotland today

Haggis is now widely sold in supermarkets in Scotland and England all year round, with cheaper brands normally being packed into artificial casings, rather than the sheeps stomachs. Sometimes haggis is sold in tins or a container which can simply be microwaved or oven baked. Some supermarket haggis is largely made from pig, rather than sheep, offal.

Haggis is often served in Scottish fast food establishments deep fried in batter. A typical haggis supper is haggis and chips. You can also get the haggis burger, fried and served on a bun. Even a haggis pakora is available in some Indian restaurants in Scotland.

Some manufacturers have concocted a vegetarian haggis, substituting various pulses, nuts and vegetables for the meat in the dish.

Gaelic Pure Scotch Whisky to enjoy with your Haggis.

Scotch whisky is often asserted to be the traditional and only acceptable accompaniment for haggis, though this may be because both are traditionally Scottish and served at a Burns supper.