It is hard to explain to non-Scots, just how “pure dead brilliant” it is to be Scottish. We sell the world an image of breath-taking landscapes, world-class golf courses, castles, lochs, glens, stags, tartan, Whisky, and a promise of four seasons in one day. We have always been a nation with so much to offer and one that has contributed more than its fair share to the modern world. It is easy to see why people want to visit, why people fall in love with Scotland, and are captivated by the people, the characters, the humour and the history of this small nation. Everybody knows the picture-postcard Scotland but you see, for me, it’s the small things that are so Scottish, you wouldn’t understand how Scottish they are unless you were a Scot. This is no truer than when we look at our wildlife.
No other nation in the world would have a fictional single horned flying horse as its national animal? Of course the mighty Welsh have a dragon. Granted it is fictional, but dragons are cool and powerful rather than decoration for a five year old’s pencil case. You would be forgiven for thinking that we ended up with the unicorn as our national animal due to a vote that was hijacked by far too many tipsy comedians on a Friday night, but this is a creature with magical powers; it symbolises hope, love, strength, magic, and selflessness, and it is not afraid to wear glitter and a pink tutu. You couldn’t ask for a better national animal unless you made it up…
We also created an entire tourist industry around a made-up monster in a Loch in the Highlands. I’d love to have been at the Highland tourist board meeting in the early 1930’s when they came up with that one. They must have been rolling around the floor in stiches when everyone descended on Loch Ness to catch a glimpse of the famous Nessie. A cost free tourist attraction with zero running costs that brings millions into the economy. A Scot’s dream!
Then there is the Haggis. The wild nocturnal six legged, hairy rodent that has longer legs on one side to help it run around mountains at breakneck speed. The best tasting haggis is wild and five years of age. Not that anyone would dare try to farm them anymore after the West Fields Farm incident in 1976. We leant then that the haggis should never be kept in captivity. Brave souls need to complete a six year specialist training course before a haggis hunting permit is granted. The end of the hunting season coincides perfectly with Burns night which is fortunate because the famed bard wrote a poem about his favourite animal which is traditionally recited before the knife is plunged in.
Here is good article in the Scotsman about the Scot’s fascination with Haggis.
Anyway, what to drink with haggis… I caught up with Angus and his dad Archie Ferguson, one of the lucky survivors of the West Fields Farm incident to talk about what to drink with haggis. Archie is a traditionalist and has Whisky, lots of Whisky. Angus and I settled on the wines below and decided that fuller bodied reds with low tannins and a little spice work really well. Juicy, sweet fruited reds work really well with the texture of haggis along with reds with earthy, natural aromas are perfect.