Comfort in the cold

Happy New Year to one and all, and I hope this issue of Unfiltered finds you as well as you can be under the continuing challenges of living with coronavirus.

January can be a tough month, especially in the dark and cold of Scotland, and this one feels particularly difficult due to the ongoing pandemic. Thankfully there’s a little light at the end of the month with Burns Night, a chance not only to celebrate the Bard’s life and work but a cracking excuse – as if you needed one – to get together online with family or friends to share a few drams, poetry, songs or speeches.

This year we’re looking at how to make the most of a digital Burns Supper, with excellent advice from Alistair Heather. Ally and I will also be co-hosting our own online Burns Night in the Society’s virtual pub session at 8pm on Friday, 15 January, which you can tune into live on the SMWS UK Facebook page or SMWS Silverscreen YouTube channel – or catch the recording after the event on either channel for some songs, poetry and a whisky-related Immortal Memory delivered by the Society’s master brand ambassador John McCheyne.

I also had the great pleasure of sitting down for a few drams just before Christmas for a fascinating chat with author Irvine Welsh, to find out more about the influence of Burns on his work, his lifelong connections with Leith and his growing passion for whisky. That’s one not to miss.

There’s plenty more to dive into – tackle some Gaelic whisky tongue twisters, explore 12 ways the SMWS has been a game changer in the whisky world, get practical advice on setting up your own whisky club, and step inside our latest partner bar at the Globe in Dumfries – which just happened to be Burns’s favourite local pub later in his life.

I hope all that and our other whisky stories helps to keep you going throughout January, and here’s to a better year to come.