Over 1,200 singers from around the world, including Hogmanay revellers in Edinburgh, have released an international singalong of Robert Burns’ Auld Lang Syne to commemorate the Bard’s birthday.
The Scottish Government challenged people from around the globe to sing lines from Burns’ most popular work to mark Burns Night 2015.
The “Sensational Burns Singalong” features soloists and choirs from locations stretching from New Zealand, Brussels, Australia, Canada, China and back to Scotland - where Edinburgh’s Hogmanay revellers sang their own submission - and has now been put online.
Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “This renowned piece is recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records to be one of the top three popular songs, so I am proud to say it comes as no surprise that more than a thousand people from all over the world, have taken up our challenge to join Scots in a digital chorus of Auld Lang Syne this Burns Night.”
However, the Scotch Whisky Association has chosen some other compositions - Burns’ attacks on the “excisemen” who tax the “Scotch drink” - to point out that whisky remains one of the UK’s highest taxed goods over 200 years after his death.
The UK Government say it is responsible for ensuring whisky remains one of the UK’s “greatest export success stories”.
Burns’ hailed whisky as his “muse” and called on the devil to prevent “thae curst horse-leeches o’ the’ excise” from collecting alcohol taxes.
Rosemary Gallagher, of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: “For those of us concerned about the impact of high rates of taxation on one of the UK’s most successful industries, the words of Burns are particularly appropriate.
“While we would never refer to anyone as a ‘horse leech’, we do understand his frustrations. One can only imagine what he would make of today’s 80% tax rate.”
In the last four years the UK has exported £4.85 million of haggis to 28 countries, up 51% between 2011 and 2013.
Scotch whisky has seen a 24% increase between 2010 and 2013 to 1.3 billion bottles worth £4.37 billion.
UK Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “In a Burns night meal, nothing goes better with haggis than a dram of Scotch whisky, one of our greatest export success stories.
“More and more food and drink from Scotland and the rest of Britain is being sold abroad thanks to this Government’s efforts and the success of our long-term economic plan. It is yet more proof of how we are stronger together in the United Kingdom.”