Merry Samhain

doorstep lgIt’s that time of the year when ghouls and witches get together (no, not the usual Friday night in the pub…) to celebrate all things Halloween! Also known as All Hallows Eve, and in Scotland, Samhain, which is the name of the Gaelic festival that marks the end of harvest season and the start of Winter – the Celtic New Year. Traditionally, Samhain is celebrated from sunset on the 31st October until sunset on 1st November – a time that signals the ‘dark’ half of the year beginning. It’s a time to be thankful for (hopefully) a plentiful harvest, and prepare for Winter. It’s also around the time of the Roman festival which honours Pamona, the goddess of fruit trees, normally symbolised as an apple.

Certainly at Thistly Cross, based in East Lothian on the East coast of Scotland we’ve noticed the seasonal change. The leaves are turning all kinds of yellow and orange, the nights are closing in and the harvest is starting to diminish (but we still want your late apples if you have any spare, so please do bring them down to our friends at Belhaven Fruit Farm and exchange them for cider or apple juice!)

autumn leaves

Across the world, Halloween is a time to indulge in all kinds of spooky delights – we carve out turnips (and more latterly, pumpkins) into faces and light candles inside, we ‘dook’ for apples floating in water, and we dress up as all manner of terrifying deathly beings and ‘trick or treat’ for a sweet reward. All are linked to Pagan traditions surrounding the ancient festival, witchcraft and magic… the 31st October is the one night of the year when the curtain between our world and the spirit world is said to be at its thinnest, so the ghosts of the deceased can mingle with the living. Ancient superstitions warn that visiting ghosts can disguise themselves in human form at this time, and knock on your door requesting food or money. But beware, if you turn them away empty-handed, you risk being cursed or even worse, haunted! doorstep cuHistorically in Scotland, apples and other food were buried at the sides of roads for those lost souls who couldn’t find their way home on the scariest night of the year, and apples were a popular gift to leave on doorsteps to feed and please the newly risen. It’s no accident these harvest fruits feature so prominently in Halloween and Samhain traditions – they’re not just delicious to eat and drink!

East Lothian has long links with ancient traditions including witchcraft, as witnessed by some of the relics dotted around the area. One of the most famous is in a place called Spott, around 3 miles from Thistly HQ, which saw the last witch executions in East Lothian. One of the accused, known as the Rigwoody Witch, was said to have been burnt to death at The Witches Stone here. In fact, Witch-hunting lasted longer in East Lothian than almost anywhere else in Scotland, and between 1593 and 1705, the Dunbar area brought more than 70 suspected witches and warlocks to trial. The name of Thistly Cross itself originates from an area on the farm called Thistly Bank where witches were burned at the stake. Another famous local case in 1589 saw witches from Prestonpans, Tranent and North Berwick accused of attempts to kill King James VI of Scotland.

witch stone

But October isn’t all dark and mystical history and tradition, Autumn is the perfect time to consider moving on from Summery flavours and start enjoying those particularly well-suited to the cooler weather like our Whisky Cask and Real Ginger. And it’s also when we mash and press most of our apple harvest, including your donated fruit, into new batches of apple-juice to begin their Thistly journey, ready for 2016. It’s cider season folks!

(sm) multi cocktailsSo in celebration of this weekend’s Samhain celebrations we’ve put a little bit of a fun twist on some traditional cider cocktails for any lost souls abroad amongst us.

Merry Samhain and Happy Halloween from all at Thistly Cross!


  • Medium to large glass of hard cider (around a small bottle or half a 500ml bottle of Thistly Cross Cider; our Whisky Cask, Real Ginger or Original work well)
  • 1 teaspoon honey or brown sugar (to taste)
  • cinnamon stick
  • lemon or orange peel
  • couple tablespoons of your favourite Scotch whisky (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (to taste)

Heat the cider, honey (or sugar), cinnamon and lemon peel in a saucepan over medium heat; depending on the particular cider and whisky you choose you may need less or more added sweetness so start slowly – you can always add more as you go along! Stir for a few minutes until the honey has loosened (or sugar dissolved) and mixed in. Turn off heat, add the whisky and lemon juice, and stir gently to combine. Serve in a cup or glass (heatproof!) and garnish with cinnamon stick and citrus peel.


A simple, easy half in half of our Real Strawberry Cider with prosecco or sparkling wine. This is the perfect party drink; great for Autumnal afternoons or Wintry evenings, it’s light, refreshing and easily adaptable to whatever you have to hand. Add some slices of fresh fruit and sugar-encrusted berries for colour and fragrance, or pop in  grape or lychee ‘eyeball’. For an extra spooky touch, trail kir or strawberry/blackcurrant syrup into and around the glass.


First, choose your cider – we like something light and easy-drinking like a Thistly Cross Traditional; not too alcoholic at 4.4%, with fresh, appley flavours. Then, choose which fruit or botanical you’d like to ‘muddle’ in (that’s a posh word for ‘artfully mash’ really) – we like something with a little tartness like blueberries or raspberries. Gently muddle your chosen fruit in the glass (squash the little juicy blighters but don’t completely obliterate them!) then pour in your cider. If you get weird about ‘bits’ then a sieve is your best friend, but we rather like the punch-like texture of real fruit mixing with the alcohol. This mix is particularly good in large jugs for a party or event as the fruit gives your cider a different hue, as well as a berrylicious tang. If you want to get totally arty, then freeze some berries into your ice-cubes and add to the mix before serving. Regarding botanicals, a few muddled mint leaves are delicious with Real Strawberry Cider. Experiment with other herbs and spices: lavender, basil, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc for a warmer, spicier finish.

Thistly Cross celebrates successful apple appeal

ty tccFollowing the successful launch of our ‘bucket for a bottle’ scheme, we want to say a massive ‘thank you’ to apple growers all over Scotland, who have responded in their hundreds. Since September, when this year’s crowdsourcing appeal was launched, over 50 tonnes of apples have been exchanged for Thistly Cross Cider or apple juice. “It’s been an amazing harvest and lots of fun!” said Peter Stuart, Head Cidermaker.  “Good folk have come from all over Scotland to swap their apples for Thistly Cross Cider, bringing anything from a bucketful to a truckload of apples.”

Using Scottish apples is at the core of Thistly’s philosophy.  Scotland is home to more than 200 apple varieties and it’s this blend of Scottish heritage apples that gives Thistly its unique flavour profile.  “We want to give hardy Scottish apples the credit they deserve!” said Peter, “Thistly has always considered itself to be an innovative company.  We’re always developing new product ideas, including limited edition ciders and collaborations.  The apples that we get from the public help us to keep doing this, as well as meeting our increasing demand, nationally and globally – without compromising on quality.”

To celebrate the appeal’s success, we’re offering a 10% discount on our online shop to customers who use the code THANKYOU2015 – valid until the end of November for orders placed on the Thistly Cross online shop.

And remember, it’s not too late to get involved with the cider swap; there are still a few weeks of the apple season left. We’re still welcoming apple donations in exchange for Scottish cider or apple juice at:

The Store, Belhaven Fruit Farm, Thistly Cross Roundabout, Dunbar, EH42 1RG


Audio Soup is back and this time it’s on the Thistly Cross Cider farm!

Scotland is finally basking in sunshine and here at Thistly we can feel a festival coming on!

This year, instead of us lugging our cider to Audio Soup, Audio Soup is bringing their music to the Thistly fields for the ultimate collaboration in musical, cidery fun.

audio 1

We love Scotland’s biggest wee festival and we know that you guys do too; back for their third year our pals at Audio Soup are pulling out all the stops to bring us the best unsigned artists from the UK to the open air main stage and the wub hut as well.

Acts such as Beat Master General, Sam Buckly, and T Danger and G Kemp will be performing from Friday through to Sunday so grab your tickets from to join us from  the 30th of August to the 2nd of September.

Ticket prices start at £20 for an adult day ticket and £58 for the weekend camping (campervans are £5 extra). Young persons tickets come even cheaper than that and music isn’t the only thing you’ll experience…


In the middle of the woods, a hidden cider bar to amuse the senses. We’ll be there with every single one of our summery ciders on tap; so whether Real Strawberry, Original Still, or Real Ginger takes your fancy, you’ll be able to enjoy it as fresh as possible and in the most mesmerising surroundings you can imagine…the Thistly Cross Farm of course.

Fancy it but don’t know what to do with the ankle biters? Great news! Why not bring them along to have some fun in the indoor kids area?

audio 2

The whole family can be transformed into terrifying tigers and beautiful butterflies at our face painting bar at 12pm on Saturday and, if it all gets too much, you can relax by taking an onsite yoga or pilates class.

So grab your tent, a few mates, and some festival cheer. It’s time to spend a weekend camping and partying in the beautiful East Lothian countryside.

And don’t worry, Thistly Cross Cider has been in touch with the sun and he’s assured us that he’ll keep his hat on and cider in hand for August 30th.  Promise!

audio soup 3

We love the Whiski Bar & Restaurant

Pride of place on Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile, you’ll find the Whiski Bar and Restaurant.

whiski bar

Serving delicious Scottish food and over 300 whiskies, the Whiski Bar and Restaurant was an early adopter of our cider as manager Rory explains:

“We’ve been stocking Thistly Cross Cider for over four years.

“At the beginning it was mainly tourists who were interested in the cider as they wanted to try anything that was Scottish!

“More recently Thistly’s popularity has gone through the roof with Edinburgh locals coming in looking for the cider too.

“At the moment, our clientele are polishing off about four kegs a week at least. People are thirsty for proper cider; so much so we’ve taken out Strongbow completely and replaced it with Thistly on draft!”

whiski bar

A multi-award winning restaurant, part of the Whiski Bar’s success is its reputation as one of Edinburgh’s best Scottish restaurants…and there’s more than just haggis on the menu:

“The Whiski Restaurant strives to give visitors a taste of Scotland using fresh, natural ingredients.

“We’re also working on recipes that combine different Scottish ingredients like our mussels in a Thistly Cross Cider sauce which go down a right treat!”

In keeping with the Whiski Bar being one of the first Edinburgh bars to stock our cider, we made sure they were among the first to sell our cider on keg – a new addition to the Thistly Cross line-up.


“We’ve recently begun selling the cider from kegs and it’s been working really well.

“So far we’ve been able to put the Original 7.2% on draft – which is definitely our most popular cider – with Real Strawberry, Real Ginger and Whisky Cask still available by the bottle.”

And at the end of a busy day, Rory knows which cider is his favourite:

“My absolute favourite is Thistly’s Original 7.2% Still. An ice cold pint of that – what a way to round off a hard day’s work!”

Thistly Cross Snakebite and Black Puts In Another Appearance…

Our fastest selling cider of 2013 so far.

The world’s first commercial snakebite.

A collaboration between an awesome craft brewery and Scotland’s only recognised cider maker…

Snakebite 1









There are lots of ways to introduce Snakebite and Black – A 5.5% craft blend that uses Thistly Cross Cider and Tempest beer, not to mention copious amounts of home grown blackcurrants from our fruit farm.

After a sneaky preview at Craft beer Rising in London, Snakebite and Black sold-out. Fast.

Rumour has it that another batch is almost ready to unleash it’s cidery, beery, blackcurranty goodness on the willing masses!


In fact, as soon as this weekend we’re going to be trotting up the road to the rather marvelous Insider Festival where Snakebite and Black will be putting in a guest appearance on the Backwoods Bar…a mysterious purveyor of drinkable delights tucked away in the secluded woodland spaces of Inveriach Estate.

Snakebite and Black will also be slithering its way into various pubs and bars around the country. More announcements on this coming soon.

In Edinburgh we’ll also be entertaining the crowds at the Royal Highland Show – the jewel in the crown of the agricultural calendar. Here you’ll be able to try each of our seven ciders across the core range.

You can find the Thistly Cross Cider exhibiting as part of the East Lothian Food & Drink stand at the end of the food hall next to the cookery demonstrations AKA right where the action happens!

We’ll be sampling all our ciders so it’s a great opportunity to try before you buy.

cider samples

As ever, we’ll have our sturdy six bottle carrier bags which make navigating the route from the food hall back to the car park a breeze with your precious cidery cargo.

You’ll also be able to enjoy a cool glass of Thistly on draft at the Scottish Real Ale Tent run by our friends, Eden Brewery from St Andrews.

Cider at Insider Festival

In one month Thistly Cross will be going around the world.

The voyage itself is less about taxis, planes and overpriced inflight snacks. Instead we’re going globetrotting via a blend of top notch cuisine and awesome music; all set against the backdrop of the Scottish highlands.

insider 1Insider Festival – now in its fifth year – is back. From the 21st – 23rd of June, Inshriach House will play host to 750 revelers who will enjoy sandy shores, a luxury spa and many, many musical delights across the weekend.

Bands on the menu include Washington Irving, Balkanarama, The John Lagan Band, Man’s Ruin, Black Diamond Express, Duncan Harvey, Ichi, Matthew Herbert, Karine Polwart and Sparrow & The Workshop.

Thistly Cross is delighted to be heading back to Insider Festival with plenty of cidery goodness for all.
insider 2We’ll be packing our suitcases full of Thistly Cross goodies – like our real strawberry cider made using strawberries from our fruit farm! This cider is the perfect summer drinks solution served over lashings of ice.

Insider sold out last year so be quick and book your tickets now; there’s only 750 available so be among the lucky ones.

insider 3In the meantime, you can stay up-to-date with all the Insider news, band announcements and camp inflight safety demonstrations on the festival’s brilliant Facebook page…there’s also plenty of trailers of the line-up should you wish to try before you buy.

See you there!

The Month in Thistly Cross Cider

With the summer months fast approaching, one things for sure – we’re about to get insanely busy.

March and April seem to have kicked off the summer trend early however. Here’s just a few of the reasons why:

1.       Ginger cider now available in America

We love our Stateside Thistly fans – you’re not shy to snap up a Scottish cider when you see one, let alone Instagram it, Facebook it, Tweet it and Untapp it! With the launch of Whisky Cask proving such a hit at the end of 2012, it wasn’t long before other members of the Thistly family were making it across the pond; Ginger being the latest addition.

2.       Crowned ‘Top 20 best products at IFE’









We were down in London this month for the International Food Exhibition – a global gathering of the world’s best food and drink producers. We were very humbled to be crowned one of the ‘top 20 best products’ at the event; fighting off competition from 100s of international brands.

3.       The launch of Snakebite

Our first collaboration with Scottish craft brewers – Tempest – we launched our hotly anticipated Snakebite to rave reviews. Dubbed a ‘connoisseurs’ snakebite’, the end result was a 5.5% blend of lager and cider with a hint of tart Scottish blackcurrants from our farm. Following a sneaky sell-out preview at Craft Beer Rising in London, we officially launched Snakebite in Edinburgh at the Brauhaus. Needless to say it went down a treat.

4.       Got our ‘Pin’ on

Thistly are already fans of the socialsphere with profiles on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Not one to miss a trick however, we’ve recently launched our Thistly Cross Pinterest profile where you can feast your eyes on cidery images galore. We’re now looking to crowd source further images to show ‘Thistly through the eyes of Thistly drinkers’!

5.       Thistly now available ‘down under’

Thistly Cross is now on sale in Australia. Currently stocked in outlets in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Airlie Beach and Polkolbin, we think the outrageously sunny weather makes for a perfect cider drinking habit. Cheers to you Skippy!

Thistly Cross / Tempest Snakebite – The Launch!

Hot on the heels of a sneaky sell-out preview at London’s Craft Beer Rising, we officially launched the world’s first commercial Snakebite at The Brauhaus in Edinburgh on March 21st. Needless to say, it went down a treat.

A 5.5% craft blend that uses Thistly Cross Cider and Tempest beer, not to mention home-grown Scottish blackcurrants from the Thistly Cross farm, Snakebite was launched to drinkers, journalists and bloggers alike. Here’s Beercast’s review of Snakebite to whet your appetite.

And a few of the snaps from the event itself:

Snakebite 1





snakebite 2





snakebite 3





snakebite 4





snakebite 5





snakebite 6












You can view more snaps of the event here.

(photos courtesy of The Jolly Milkman)


Snakebite – Official Launch Party

Thistly Cross Cider & Tempest Brewery: Official Snakebite Launch Party – Brauhaus Edinburgh – 21st March

Following a sneaky sell-out preview at London’s Craft Beer Rising, we’re launching our hotly anticipated Snakebite north of the border. And guess what? You’re invited!

A kick-ass collaboration between two Scottish craft producers – Tempest Brewery and Thistly Cross Cider – this isn’t just the world’s first commercial snakebite, it’s the world’s first craft snakebite as well.

Snakebite_VFINALA radical reimagining of an old school classic, our 5.5% blend takes Snakebite to a whole new level; sticking to the iconic half and half mix of cider and beer whilst including home-grown, hand-picked blackcurrants from the Thistly Cross farm.

Want to be part of hisstory and see what all the fuss is about?

Come party with us at the Brauhaus in Edinburgh on Thursday the 21st of March from 8 ’til late to celebrate the arrival of a legend.

Here you’ll get the meet the makers as well as getting the opportunity to try some of Tempest’s other incredible beers and Thistly Cross’ CAMRA-endorsed, dry vintage farmhouse cider – Jaggy Thistle.

Oh, and we promise there won’t be a Cobra in sight.

RSVP to the event on Facebook now.

Craft Beer Rising

We’re big believers that craft beer and cider are of the same ilk – from the hands on approach upheld by people who actually care about producing something incredible to the use of honest, natural ingredients.

craft beer rising

Needless to say, we’re pretty excited about attending Craft Beer Rising – a new craft beer festival that is set to showcase some of the world’s greatest brews in the grounds of the old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, East London.

As well as copious amounts of beer, there’s also going to be some mind blowing street food from the likes of Mother Flippin’ Burgers, Fleisch Mob and The Ribman who are all working in collaboration with the infamous Brockley Market.

norman jay

Top this off with a healthy dose of live music from DJs such as Norman Jay and Pete Paphides and events like beer and food pairing, beer cocktails and a beer lab, there’s plenty to get your taste buds into.

We’ll be at Craft Beer Rising on both the Friday and the Saturday (22nd & 23rd of February). Thistly Cross will be responsible for the cider bar which means it will be all hands to the pump with special editions such as Jaggy Thistle set to make an appearance.
There are also rumours of a very top secret cider possibly making its debut…a collaboration between Thistly Cross and a Scottish craft brewer – watch this space!
Fancy coming along to check it out? We think you should!


Friday is mainly a day for trade customers so if you’re interested in finding out more about the craft beer industry or our ciders, this could be the day for you.
Saturday is for consumers, so pull up a pew and immerse yourself in the flourishing world of craft…just remember to bring a wad of cash to treat yourself to some of that mighty, mighty street food!

You can check out more information on the event here and here.