"Freedom and Whisky Gang Thegither"
Robert Burns (1759-1796) is Scotland's National Poet. His short life was characterised at first by the drudgery of hard labour on his father's farm, and later by the company of the rich and famous in the elegance of Edinburgh drawing rooms. But it is clear that his greatest pleasures were the company of friends in a rough tavern or in the arms of a beautiful woman, for his poetry is a celebration of fellowship, nature and love.
Of these themes, Burns is undoubtedly best known for love and his pursuit of women. It was the love of women that inspired him to write verse in the first place: " For my part I never had the least thought or inclination of turning poet until I got heartily in love, and then rhyme and song were, in a manner, the spontaneous language of my heart." We reproduce one of his most famous love poems "A Red, Red Rose" here, with a drink that's dedicated to the ladies.
Burns was also very successful in his pursuit of women, many of whom were undoubtedly charmed by his sensitive looks, attention and charming verse. At the age of 25 he was publicly harangued in Church for the sin of fornication, having got Lizzie Paton pregnant, and he is the acknowledged father of 14 children only 5 of whom were born in marriage
Burns wrote "Freedom and whisky gang thegither " having discovered the "national" drink at the age of 22 in Irvine, where he was apprenticed in the trade of flax dressing. His passion was fellowship, usually in the company and stimulation of tavern friends. He carried pen and paper everywhere, and undoubtedly scribbled many poems with his tavern friends and a dram at the side. About this he wrote thus:
Oh whisky! soul o' plays and pranks!
Evidently a scone and a gill of whisky were all the sustenance and inspiration Burns needed to write fine verse. And let's not forget what is arguably his most famous song, which is probably sung by more people in the Western-speaking world than any other, namely Auld Lang Syne (old time's sake):
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
As Burns grasps the hand of his trusty friend with the words "give us a hand of thine, and we'll take a right, hearty drink for auld land syne" we just know he's celebrating their kinship with fine Scotch whisky.
So, the moral of this tale is - freedom, friendship and whisky gang thegither.