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:

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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.

Burns Supper Recipe Suggestions

January spells only one thing here at Thistly Cross HQ and that’s catching haggises, mashing neeps and generally trying to remember what comes after the line – ‘wee sleeked, timorous beastie…’.

So what better way to say happy birthday to the Bard than going all out and creating a whisky inspired three course dinner…or in our case, a whisky cask cider inspired feast.

So here’s what’ll be on Thistly HQ’s dinner table when the 25th comes around:

Starter: Haggis bhajis with whisky cider dip


Scotland’s love affair with Indian food shows no sign of abating and these haggis bhajis are a mouth-watering cultural combo. Bung three sliced onions, one crushed garlic clove, one chopped red chilli and 7oz of cooked haggis into a pan with oil. Cook until brown. Add 10oz of flour and a small amount of water to a bowl, then whisk. Add the haggis mix to the batter and deep fry. To create the dipping sauce for your starter mix 10fl oz of orange juice, 10oz of brown sugar, 3fl oz of white wine vinegar and 3fl oz of whisky cask cider.

Main: Haggis, clapshot and whisky sauce

haggis toast

There’s no beating the traditional main of haggis, neeps and tatties at your Burn’s supper. Whether it’s shop bought, homemade, meat or veggie, we don’t discriminate when it comes to Scotland’s national dish.If mash isn’t your thing, a Thistly favourite is haggis on toasted  artisan bread with a little drizzling of balsamic vinegar.

For the whisky sauce, add 17fl oz of double cream, 2tsp of mustard and season to taste. To add that infamous whisky kick, add a splash of whisky – we recommend using a single malt from our friends at Glenglassaugh Distillery.

Dessert: Whisky & Cider sorbet

whisky sorbet

Although Burn’s suppers help celebrate poems from the past, there’s nothing stopping you getting contemporary with it – like creating a whisky and cider sorbet. To make this great little palette cleanser, mix 4 cups of water with 1 ½ cups of cane sugar and 2 cups of lemon juice. Add 4 oz of Thistly Cross Whisky Cask Cider then garnish with lemon zest and a sprinkling of sugar.

So there you have it – a Burn’s culinary knees up fit for the Bard himself.

Just don’t forget to leave enough cider for your toast (that’s the speaking kind, not the eating kind!) and be sure to share your pictures with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

2013 Thistly Cross Cider Resolutions

2012, we salute you!

We’ve had an incredible year – from launching our Whisky Cask Cider in America, to winning East Lothian’s ‘Most Innovative Product’, taking our ciders to hundreds of tastings around the world and generally just getting awesome feedback and support from you – the guardians of Thistly!

We’ve got a feeling 2013 is going to be our year…so in respect of this, the Thistly Cross team are laying down the law cider-style and making some New Year’s resolutions to keep us on the straight and narrow. Just don’t quote us on these!

Here’s what the team had to say for themselves:

Ian: Cider Baron: “My New Year’s resolution is simple – to make sure Peter doesn’t blow up the cider shed.”


Julia: International Sales: “We think the world needs more Thistly! Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or email, we’re asked on a daily basis to make our cider more readily available. 2013 is the year we want to double our exports worldwide…watch this space!”

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Mhairi: Digital & Social Media: “We’re planning to relaunch the Thistly Cross website as well as amping up activity online. There’s going to be no better place to find out about the wonderfully weird world of Thistly…other than in your glass that is!”

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Pete: Assistant Cider Maker: “This year’s about creating ciders that have never been created before, using ingredients – particularly those native to Scotland – that have been long forgotten about. Even I can’t remember what they’re called!”


Peter: Cider Maker: “Like every year, I want to push modern cider making to its limits…even it means blowing up the cider shed in the process.”


Sarah: Graphic Designer: “To continue making Thistly Cross Cider look as good as it tastes.”


Scott: Drayman: “I love Thistly Cross, it’s why I’m here. I want to make 2013 the year I only drink Thistly Cross – I’ll even pour it over my cereal if I have to!”

It’s a Mulled Cider World Takeover!

It’s winter and all of a sudden that gently chilled, refreshing glass of cider is proving a lot less appealing and definitely not the sort of elixir to warm the bones.

No problem, we’ve got it sorted – mulled cider!

We’ve been banging the drum for mulled cider for little over a month now and have been overwhelmed at the response we’ve received.

You’ve tweeted us, emailed us and Facebooked us to tell us about your experiences in the world of mulled cider, including the locations where you’ve discovered some of the most mind-blowing blends imaginable.

We’ve had repeated tip-offs that the Roseleaf in Edinburgh has been hitting out with some awesome cider concoctions so we headed along to check it out in person where we met the owner – Lyn Kane – and also that day’s mulled special: a seasonal blend of Original Thistly with cinnamon, fresh orange slices and cloves, gently heated in a cider kettle.

“We stock Thistly Cross because it’s a local Scottish cider that tastes amazing. We started mulling Thistly as soon as the cooler months arrived; one must keep the chill off by warming ones cockles with a mug of mulled goodness!

“So far we’ve been experimenting with lots of different blends including spiced pear, strawberry & vanilla, even ginger & rum (yes, rum for an extra kick!)

“All of our Thistly mulled blends have received great feedback…it’s been embraced as a welcome alternative to mulled wine that gives less of a sore head in the morning.

“Over the next few weeks we’re going to roll out some food matchings with the mulled cider. Slow cooked pork belly sounds like a good pairing to us!”

Missing your favourite summer ciders? No problem! Just heat it up and while you’re at it why not stick in your own crazy combination of spices and fruit.

What’s more, you could be in with a chance of getting your hands on one of twelve Thistly Cross t-shirts to celebrate the arrival of the holiday season. Upload your snaps to our Facebook page, tweet us with the #thistlycrossmass hashtag or stick your snaps on Instagram for us to find.

Goings On In The Cider Shed

With the chill of winter in the air, some cidermakers may consider it a good time to retire the apple press and hang up their aprons in anticipation of warmer weather.

At Thistly Cross, we can but dream of putting our feet up.

Instead, the past few weeks have been some of our busiest with the cider shed a hive of activity, often into the early hours of the morning.

So what have we been up to? The short answer is lots!

Mulled Hot Cider

With Edinburgh’s Christmas market about to get into full festive swing, we’ve been preparing a ton of our traditional cider for mulling up and down Princes Street – Edinburgh’s famous shopping promenade and the epicentre of the Scottish capital’s holiday hijinks.

And it’s not just mulled cider that’s proving popular, our Whisky Cask cider has been a massive hit in America, so much so, we’ve dispatched a second consignment of our oak-aged nectar.

With a few of our ex-Glenglassaugh Distillery casks now empty, we also took the opportunity to re-fill them with more of our blend to create whisky cask cider in waiting.

Despite the apple season drawing to a close, our apple press has also been hard at work; and not just with apples but also pears from orchards that are local to the cider shed.

And it’s not just apples and pears we’ve been pressing as we continue experiments with the last of this summer’s strawberries to create a completely non-alcoholic, strawberry-packed cider (AKA 0.0% ABV) as you never can tell what will set next year alight!

Strawberry Punnets

And for those seeking more than just refreshment and flavour from their cider, we’ve also been trialling an alcoholic blend using wild blossom honey from award-winning, local beekeepers, Hood’s.

Still not got your fill of Thistly? Remember to check out Thistly on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest as well as tagging your Thistly photos with #thistlycross to have them showcased on our website.

Hello Winter And Hello Mulled Cider

During the chillier months, one of our favourite activities is waiting for the bed to warm up.

There’s nothing finer than cracking the ice on the duvet and slipping between the sheets…that’s the benefits of these tumbled down, Scottish farmhouses.

And for those who are enlightened to the joys of central heating but still looking for a warming pick-me-up, there’s mulled Thistly!

Put your own seasonal spin on things to make Thistly Cross your own

Equipped with a soup pan or your own Thistly Cross Cider kettle if you’re a business (provided by us!) it’s now possible to create your very own aromatic mulled cider blends; perfect for celebrating dark evenings and open fires.

Simply add a few handfuls of fresh spice – from cinnamon to cardamom, crystallised ginger to cloves – to a gently warmed kettle of Thistly and you can conjure your very own autumnal creations that are completely unique to you.

So whether you’re playing with boozy Whisky Cask, full bodied Original, fiery Ginger, non-alcoholic Elderflower or even straight apple juice, now’s the time to get blending.

‘Tis the season to get blending

If you’re a café, pub or restaurant and fancy giving mulled cider a bash, then you should get your mitts on a Thistly Cross Cider kettle! Our cider kettles are in limited supply so please get in touch today to ensure your cockles are warmed over winter.

In the meantime, here’s one of our favourite mulled cider blends to get you started:


  • 4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1 clementine, sliced into wedges, spiked with 8 cloves
  • 1 lemon, sliced into wedges, spiked with 8 cloves
  • 100ml/4fl oz whiskey
  • 100ml/4fl oz orange liqueur
  • 3 tbsp clear honey
  • 1 litre/1 pint 15¼fl oz Thistly Cross ginger cider
  • 4 cinnamon stick
  • freshly grated nutmeg, to garnish

Preparation method

  1. Heat all of the mulled cider ingredients over a low heat in your cider kettle.
  2. Pour the mulled cider into a glass or mug.
  3. Finish with a little freshly grated nutmeg.

Hip Hooray – Whisky Cask Cider Makes it to the USA!

It’s been a trying time navigating the nuts and bolts of the US import system but we’ve done it – Thistly Cross’ whisky cask cider has made it stateside.

First off, massive thanks to our collaborator and Scots-born cidermaker friend across the water, Bruce Wright, who with the Koan Family from Almar Orchards, Flushing Meadows, Michigan, make JK Scrumpy and are guardians of Thistly Cross in the US of A. Bruce has been instrumental in bringing whisky cask cider to the states as well as joining up smaller producers to beat ‘the big boys’ so raise a glass in his honour!

Now after traveling the Atlantic for two and a half weeks by boat and spending four days in customs, whisky cask cider is finally ready to make itself at home in your glass and become friends with your palette.

Matured for six months in oak casks from Glenglassaugh Distillery in Portsoy, Aberdeenshire, our whisky cider makes for the perfect winter warmer, wherever you are in the world.

Infact, 2012 has been a great year for whisky cask cider.

First scooping ‘Best Specialty Cider’ at the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Festival in Michigan and then being voted ‘4th best cider in the world’ by Paste Magazine, we truly thought it couldn’t get any better.

That was until we were crowned ‘Most Innovative New Product’ by our home county at the annual East Lothian Food and Drinks Awards.

Whisky cask will initially be available in 34 states via distributors such as Poppin Wine in Washington DC, Speciality Imports in Alaska, Geyser Beverage Co and Mussetter Distributing, both in California.

You’ll also be able to get your mitts on Thistly Cross in outlets such as Hope General Stores in Maine, Bushwacker Cider in Portland and Whole Foods across the USA.

As ever, we need your help when it comes to cider sleuthing – helping us and other Thistly fans to find out when you can purchase our ciders.

You can let us know via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – simply snap a picture of yourself and your bottle of whisky cask cider (or any of our ciders for that matter), remembering to use the hashtag ‘#thistlycrosscider’ so we can repost!

In the meantime, here’s a video from Bruce and the lovely folks at Bushwacker cider sending us a video message from across the pond.

Message from Bruce and Bushwacker

The Cider A – Z: A is for Apple

Welcome to the A- Z of cider.

In this new feature we attempt to untangle and defangle the story of cider. So roll up, roll up as we get started with the humble letter ‘A’ which, luckily for us, indulges our passion for something which we wouldn’t be here without – apples.

Where did apples come from?

Space. OK, that’s a lie. The answer is, as far as historical records suggest, 12th century Europe. The funky monks brought apples to the UK shortly after this time – they promoted their robustness in the face of harsh weather conditions as well as the use of apples in drinks making and as a tasty food stuff too.

What’s a weird apple fact?

You have Genghis Khan to thank for your Granny Smith. Fact.

Apples are originally from Tibet / China / that rough geographic area but were brought into Europe by the horse tribes of Genghis Khan – horses ate the apples, the seeds fermented in the horses’ gut (which is required for germination) and so the apple journeyed across the silk trail into Europe.

How many different types of apples are there?

It’s thought there are around 7,500 different varieties of apples across the globe. Some of the apples we use give a glimmer of their individual history – Stirling Castle, Hawthornden and White Melrose as well as key people like James Grieve and Edinburgh Gardener.

What’s an apple made of?

What different varieties of apples have in common is their make-up – an apple is 90% water (take that fact to your next pub quiz!) The rest of the apple is a whirl of naturally occurring organic acids, tannins, nitrogenous compounds, minerals, salts and sugars. And that’s just on the inside. On the skin of an apple you should be able to find wild yeasts which – along with everything else – are integral to the cider making process.

What apples are best for cider?

Of course, not all apples taste the same so if you fancy having a stab at your own cider making session a good rule of thumb is a nice mix between cooking apples, dessert apples and juicing apples. Fruit should be in good condition (don’t rely purely on windfall) and you’ll know when an apple is ready to pick as you should be able to softly twist it off the stem. Remove any rot, clean the fruit – but not too much to ensure the presence of wild yeast – and add a quantity of sugar syrup to compensate for bad summer weather.

Help! Help! I’m overrun with apples!

Fear not, if your garden is over flowing with apples, Thistly Cross will gladly rehome them in our cidershed. Keep an eye on our Facebook page or our Twitter for more information on Thistly Cross Apple Amnesty.