Thistly’s Winter Whisky Warmer


We swear this is a glass full of Whisky Cask Cider, and not single malt!

It’s really starting to feel like Autumn/Winter now at Thistly – all crisp mornings and early-darkening evenings. Our #apples4cider appeal seeking to uncover all of Scotland’s unwanted and neglected apples has launched, and the fruit is already tumbling in to the Cider Shed. The apple press is going to be hard at work!

Whilst all Thistly’s ciders can be enjoyed the whole year round, at the forefront of the colder months is definitely our Whisky Cask Cider. We hugely value our growing relationship with Glen Moray Distillery, which allows our cider to benefit from maturation time in the rich, oak of their ex-distillery whisky casks. The Distillery itself has recently announced some exciting news; their own Glen Moray cider cask-finished Whisky is now available as a bottle-your-own at the distillery, and is selling fast!

glen-moray-whisky-cider-screenshotWhiskyNotes has a great piece mentioning the variety of Glen Moray ‘finishes’ from a Tweet Tasting organised by The Whisky Wire.

This includes their peated cask, sherry cask and others. Click here to read the full piece.


At Thistly we realise the value of using an authentic maturation process for our Whisky Cask Cider; these casks are a valuable resource, and we’re delighted to be continuing our collaboration with Graham and the team at Glen Moray.


There’s nothing like the depth of flavour imparted by the casks, and as a result, Thistly’s Whisky Cask Cider, made potent in the oak, has lingering tastes to be savoured.

As part of our barrel-aged range, Whisky Cask has found a secure place in Thistly’s core range; loved across the world, from St Andrews, to Stockholm and Chicago.

WCEach batch is entirely unique, as the gentle whisky flavour intermingles with subtle, medium dry cider.

This gives way to the distinctive full bodied flavour of each cask, allowing finishing overtones of whisky.

It’s the perfect winter warmer, with true Scottish provenance!


Want more about Thistly Cross’ and Glen Moray cask-swapping scheme? Click here.

Order your very own case of Thistly Cross Whisky Cask Cider, or even a 20L Cider box, delivered to your (mainland UK) door! Here.

And Glen Moray’s website can be found here.

Thistly Cross Cider Wants Your Apples! #apples4cider

**UPDATE – the 2016 #apples4cider swap has now closed – thanks everyone!

Swiftly following on from Scotland Food & Drink Fortnight 2016, Scotland’s Original cidermaker, Thistly Cross, wants to rediscover all abandoned, overlooked and neglected local Northern apple trees to put their fruit to good use, hand-pressing them at their Cidershed, near Dunbar in Scotland. And what’s more, they’ll swap those donations, big or small, for real fruit cider or apple juice!

Thistly is just as happy with a bucketful of good fruit as an orchard full (around 7kg of apples usually equates to a bottle). Last year’s “Bucket for a Bottle” scheme harvested well over a 160 tonnes of apples and this year Thistly would love to top that with its 2016 #apples4cider campaign.

One of the things that make Thistly Cross Cider so unique is its blend of Scottish heritage apples, hand-pressed on Belton Farm, East Lothian; establishing a proud tradition of using apples grown across the country from a wide range of sources, including local schools, professional apple growers, estate owners and the general public. And so, proud of its Scottish roots and northern heritage, Thistly Cross invites the public to donate their spare fruit.

Peter Stuart, Head Cidermaker at Thistly Cross said: “The apple season is the most important time of year for Thistly. This year’s harvest is looking bountiful. As apple donations are already flooding in, we’re hoping to exceed the 2015 crop. Thistly wants to give Scottish fruit a chance to really prove itself!”

Based in the heart of East Lothian, Thistly Cross was established in 2008 as a collaboration between farmer, Ian Rennie, and artist-turned-cidermaker, Peter Stuart, and has rapidly gained a growing reputation for making ciders that people love.


Peter added: “Thistly’s popularity is growing year on year, but we can’t make all the cider we want without the help of the public.  Every year, we accept fruit donations from all over Scotland, ranging from a bucketful to a truckload, and to say ‘thank you’ we offer the choice of cider or apple juice in return”.

By using as much locally sourced fruit as possible, Thistly has eliminated the waste that is all too often associated with the food industry of modern times. Apple growers can also help by donating their unwanted and excess apples that would otherwise go to waste.

He continued, “We’re on a Thistly mission to combat food waste and encourage everyone to get involved. We also hope to encourage the planting of fruit trees and orchards across Scotland, especially heritage varieties and those less commonly found in commercial growing”.

Apple donations of at least 7kg are welcomed for swapping at Thistly’s drop-off point at The Store, Belhaven Fruit Farm, Thistly Cross Roundabout, Dunbar, East Lothian, EH42 1ST just off the A1 outside Dunbar, which has a cafe and farm shop. Open regular hours, seven days a week (please avoid lunchtime if possible as they can be very busy!).

Follow Thistly’s #apples4cider campaign across social media.

cider-appeal-iconHere’s all the info you’ll need:

Which apple varieties are accepted? Thistly accepts most apple varieties (apart from crab apples – sorry!). Part of the reason that Thistly has such an authentic flavour is its unique blend of apple varieties. Thistly also accepts pears, providing these fit the same criteria.

How do I know if my apples are ripe? Very simply, healthy apples should drop to the ground of their own accord when ripe. However, the wind in Scotland makes this a little tricky to gauge, as big gusts can knock apples down too early. Once a few ripe, healthy apples have fallen to the ground, this is an indication that the rest of the apples are nearly ready for harvest. A ripe apple should come off the branch with ease, when twisted lightly. Once ripened, apples become slightly softer and sweeter.

What condition of apples does Thistly accept? Thistly needs good ingredients to make good cider – that means clean, sound, rot-free apples. It really is true that one rotten apple can ruin the barrel. The fruit is weighed and sorted on arrival, but it saves time if bad or heavily bruised apples are taken out beforehand.

How should I store my apples? Apples should be stored in a breathable container – paper bags, tattie sacks and crates all work perfectly for this. Please don’t store your apples in plastic bags as this causes them to sweat and rot.

When should I bring them? The short answer:as soon as possible after harvesting. The longer answer: this depends very much on the variety and condition of the apple. If you pick your apples directly from the tree, it’s best to get them to Thistly within one or two weeks of harvesting. The most important thing, though, is that they meet all of the criteria above. Apples are milled at Thistly on Wednesdays and are pressed on Thursdays and Fridays. Please bear this in mind when arranging drop-off. As we are very busy during the harvest, Thistly can’t always process your apples in the same week that you drop them off, so it’s important that they’re fit to be stored for a few days.

Brilliant – my apples fit the criteria, what next? Please drop your apples off at The Store, Belhaven Fruit Farm and enjoy a cup of tea and look around the farm shop whilst you’re there. It is open from 10am to 4pm, seven days a week.

Note – obviously over-18s only for the cider swap

For any enquiries about apples, call Thistly on 07960962510 or email Head Cidermaker, Peter, on

Thistly Cross Cider Sets Sail Aboard Calmac Ferries!

calmac-bottles_tcc-editThistly Cross Cider, Scotland’s Original Cider, is hitting the high seas with a pop-up sampling tour of the Hebrides as part of Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight.

The craft cider maker is toasting its new partnership with Caledonian MacBrayne Ferries with a series of samplings on board six of the ferry operator’s Taste of Scotland accredited vessels. The pop-up tasting events will take place between Wed 14th and Fri 16th Sept (full timetable below) on a sampling tour that takes in a number of the Hebridean Isles including Islay, Mull, Skye, Harris and Lewis.

Thanks to the recent listing with Bidvest Logistics, three craft cider varieties (Traditional, Real Elderflower and Real Strawberry) from Thistly Cross’ range will be stocked aboard all ten Taste of Scotland accredited Caledonian MacBrayne vessels.

Caledonian MacBrayne’s Onboard Development Manager, Anne Mitchell said: “We have been working hard recently to increase the amount of local produce we serve on board. A key part of our Taste our Best Award from Visit Scotland last year was demonstrating that we use more than 50% of local produce in our menus. Thistly Cross will make a brilliant addition to the range of drinks available on board and help us towards achieving this goal. We don’t just stock local produce because it’s local, but because we believe it’s the best.”

Head Cidermaker, Peter Stuart said: “The Caledonian MacBrayne ferries are an icon of the west coast of Scotland and provide the gateway to many of the communities of Inverclyde and the Hebrides. As Scotland’s foremost cider producer we are delighted to be able to take this opportunity to introduce our handmade ciders to a new customer base, locals and visitors alike, offering passengers aboard these ferries a real taste of Scotland as they journey to and from these islands”.

Tastings schedule:


DAYTRIPPER: Music & Food Feastival

We’re lucky at Thistly Cross Cider, to be based in Dunbar, the ‘sunniest place in Scotland’, and whilst we love all the seasons (we need a good mix of rain and sunshine to create all those fantastic apples we use!), if we’re talking festivals, then let’s face it, we all ideally want a good amount of the sunny stuff. So it’s pretty fitting that Dunbar is finally getting its own summer Feastival on Saturday 3rd September in Lauderdale Park. World meet DAYTRIPPER: Music & Food Feastival!

day logoCombining a love of great music with good food, DayTripper offers local talent a showcase topped by a headline set from Idlewild alongside truckloads of local and artisan food, Thistly’s finest craft cider (of course), and beer from Brewdog and Knops. All set in Lauderdale Park, a perfect outdoor venue with its lovely walled garden right in the heart of Dunbar. day band picDaytripper is the idea and creation of Claire and Alan Gray, a local couple who combine their passion for food and music. Claire operates the Cafe in Dunbar’s Lauderdale park, and also has her own small, artisan food company called NoCowKnowHow producing allergy-free foods. Alan is a musician, and they’ve both been hosting small music sessions in the Cafe Lauderdale. Their longer term, admirable aim is to create a music venue for local artists and bands to perform, and this is how Dunbar Daytripper came about. For its first year, any profits are being reinvested into the park and enhanced leisure facilities, such as outdoor performance space and games

daytripper 2 cider

Tickets available here:

And if you fancy throwing your musical hat into the ring, we’ve got a competition to win a pair of tickets, and a couple of Thistly t-shirts! Head on over to our Facebook page for all the details.

Is it cider? Is it brandy? No, it’s Scottish Cider Brandy!

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Thistly has some exciting news…  After teaming up with Strathearn Distillery, we’ve joined forces in a world first: Scottish Cider Brandy.

“Scottish Cider Brandy?” we hear you say.  Yes, Scottish Cider Brandy!  We’ve used our delicious cider and Strathearn’s expertise in producing artisan Scottish spirits to come up with something quite unique: a cider spirit, made using Thistly Cross Cider, and matured in virgin oak casks.

Both teams have been testing the cider brandy at events across Scotland (we even let other people try it too!) and we’ve been blown away by the feedback.  We knew we had a good product – but it’s great when other people agree!

There’s a highly limited run of 200 bottles available, due to be launched on the 21st of June.  Two more casks are patiently holding the remaining spirit, with plans to be bottled in due course.

More info to come.  Stay in the loop and keep an eye on our social media!

Tweet – like – follow



Thistly Cross encourages wood donations in “branch to barrel” campaign

Following on from the phenomenal success of our “branch to bottle” campaign, where we swapped apples for cider, we’re excited to launch our second crowdsourcing project, “branch to barrel”.

Cask matured cider has long formed an incredibly popular part of Thistly’s product range – and now you can get involved too!

Just bring along any spare wood (driftwood, off-cuts, logs, Ikea flatpack furniture) and we’ll make it into barrels to mature our cider in.  In return, we’ll give you your very own barrel!

Bring your donations along to The Store at Belhaven Fruit Farm, where your donation will be weighed and exchanged for a handcrafted wooden barrel.   branchtobarrel

#branchtobottle #branchtobarrel

Gordon Castle Walled Gardens

wall of treesSpring is finally springing and it will soon be time for the apple trees to start budding, so it was perfect weather for Peter to pay a visit to our friends Gordon Castle  in Fochabers to see their gardens and amazing collection of fruit trees.

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garden view

As well as trained pear and apple trees stretching along the brickwork walls, they have pear tree tunnels, and even some lined pathways where apples are grown along the ground. Evidence of an original walled garden has been discovered from as far back as the 17th century, with the present form dating from 1803. And The Walled Garden’s national significance has been recognised in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland.

buildingsWe’re lucky enough to press some of their home-grown fruit here at Thistly Cross, which forms the basis for their Gordon Castle cider. And if you visit, make sure you try their award-winning, small-batch, super-premium gin using herbs from their own gardens!



Great Scottish Beer Celebration

gsbc venue logo
Fancy sampling Thistly’s ciders and the wares from lots of outstanding breweries including Brewdog, St Andrews Brew Co and Alechemy just to name a few? Alongside some amazing stacks of street food and great music? In buzzing Glasgow?

tcc capThen this weekend (Fri 11th – Sat 12th March), sees Hippo Beers presenting the 2nd annual Great Scottish Beer Celebration at The Barras Art and Design Centre.

Showcasing the thriving independent Scottish brewing industry alongside a few friends from across the border, the inaugural GSBC was so popular that they’ve even added an extra session this year to cater for demand!

There will be four sessions in total:jk at CBR colin

  • Friday afternoon: 12pm – 5pm
  • Friday evening: 6pm – 11pm
  • Saturday afternoon: 12pm – 5pm
  • Saturday evening: 6pm – 11pm

And Team Thistly will be there with all the ciders, including our festival fave Jaggy Thistly (which you can’t get in bottles), and our newest VERY limited edition Rum Cask. This may very well be your last chance to sample this rare beast as whenever it has reared its head, the kegs have run dry!

We’ll also have special stock of US canned cider from our friends JK’s Farmhouse Cider in two varieties: Organic Scrumpy Hard Cider and Northern Neighbour (made with Saskatoon berries).

Look out for Cammy, Colin and Sinea at Friday’s sessions, with the addition of Luke and Stevie on Saturday on our rainbow bar!

Buy tickets here.                          GSBC on Facebook.                          GSBC on Twitter.

Thistly Cross & Glen Moray: a cask swapping scheme

WC at Glen MorayGood news Whisky Cask Cider lovers as we have officially joined forces with fellow Scottish producer, Glen Moray Distillery to use their ex-distillery casks! Thistly Cross has long been at the forefront of the craft cider movement in Scotland and we’ve been experimenting with cask-aged ciders for a number of years – a technique that is often used for beers but, as of yet, is still relatively new to the cider industry. However, this collaboration is truly unique in that, after the whisky casks have been used to mature cider, they are sent back up to the distillery to be used again for whisky maturation.

Graham & Peter GM“It has been great to use the cider casks to enhance the character of Glen Moray,” said Graham Coull, Distillery Manager.  “As far as we are aware, no other Scottish Single Malt Whisky distillery has matured their whisky in cider casks.  The results, even at this early stage, are superb – watch this space!”

Thistly uses the whisky casks from the distillery to mature our small batch Whisky Cask cider, which is fast becoming the most popular in our portfolio, and our friendship with Glen Moray allows us to ensure that Whisky Cask has a permanent listing in our barrel-aged range.

“We’re excited to be working with a strong Scottish heritage brand such as Glen Moray,” said Head Cidermaker Peter Stuart.  “Collaboration and friendship is at the heart of Thistly’s ethos, and we love working with the distillery.  Both companies are known for producing innovative products and flavours, so working together was a logical step to take,” he continued.  “Our Whisky Cask cider is Thistly’s fastest growing cider variety and is taking both Scottish companies into new markets and export territories.”

Thistly may be a relatively young East Lothian company, having started in 2008 as a partnership between artist Peter Stuart and farmer Ian Rennie, but Glen Moray whisky has been distilled on the banks of the River Lossie since 1897.  Using local ingredients and craftsmen, the distillery takes a bespoke approach to producing a wide range of cask-finished whiskies; the fine balance between creativity and tradition is evident throughout their range.

Barrels Glen Moray y

Glen Moray’s casks begin their journey in the USA.  Like most Scotch Whisky casks, they were previously used for bourbon.  The white oak used for the casks (quercus alba) imparts a vanilla-like flavour to its contents, whilst the flavour from Glen Moray whisky adds a complexity to Whisky Cask Cider’s smooth flavour profile.

Thistly Cross Whisky Cask cider is available in bottles, ciderboxes and kegs, from a wide range of pubs and independent bottle shops across the UK (including supermarkets across Scotland) and is also stocked internationally.

North Hop Edinburgh this Saturday!

north hop bannerWe’re going to North Hop until we pop this weekend, how about you?

Following on from their successful fests in Inverness and Aberdeen, March 5th sees the Assembly Rooms on George Street, Edinburgh transformed into a hop-filled Beer (and cider) Hall complete with main stage and tempting street food alongside the buzzing DJ-led Ballroom full of gin, cocktails and lots of other treats.

north taplist 2

Sessions run 12pm until 5pm , then 7pm til 12am this Saturday, and Thistly will be there with a bar-full of cidery goodness featuring all our core varieties and a few surprises (check out our tap list above). And make sure you check out our friends Tempest Brewery who will be bringing their portfolio of fine beers alongside their newest Saison Cider which is blended from our very own sweet cider.


Look out for Thistly Sinea, Colin and Cammy on the bar (maybe literally if you’re very, very lucky)….

Buy tickets for the event here!

Get more info and follow the fun on North Hop’s facebook and Twitter, or keep a curious eye on what we’re up to on our facebook, Twitter and Instagram social media channels.