Wanted: Thistly Mulled Cider-makers this Winter!

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When the temperature really starts to fall, it’s time for a hot, fragrant, flavorful drink to soothe and warm the cockles. And that’s why in this blog, Thistly is all about the mulling.

Thistly Cross offers something cider-tastic for the customer all year round, but over the cold weather period, we provide a whole new world of mulled cider fun. Mulling alcohol is all about creating a taste sensation. In “ye olden days”, it was a practical way to make rough, spoiled alcohol taste a whole lot better and so, mulling became a spicy tradition beloved to cold Northern climates.

At Thistly, we have seen a hundred fold increase in cider sold for mulling and the hot cider ideas get hotter every year! So keep it simple and tasty and don’t over heat the mix (over heating burns off the flavour and the cider can spoil ifOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA kept warm for too long). The cider can be mulled in a batch; the wintery flavors steep in the jeely pan as it cools, and then reheat by the cup when required – a coffee machine milk steamer or microwave is just the trick. Serve in a sturdy glass, or a cup on a saucer with a few slices of citrus on the side for a satisfying, warming drink.

It’s best not get too fancy with your flavours, so keep it simple: some cider, a shot of something special (sweet apple juice or spirit) and some essential botanical bits and pieces. Take your pick from the best loved around the world: cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, the odd juniper berry, honey, lemon or orange (whole or peel), a few cloves, cardamom… or check out a Thistly favourite recipe below. The real fun starts when it’s time to chose the cider and any one will do, as long its Thistly! Our 5L or 20L bag-in-box is the perfect format and offers a cost effective, practical dispense. Imagine the Thistly Whisky Cask warmed with a clove-studded lemon gingerbib5Land drizzle of honey, our Traditional 4.4% steeped in cinnamon and orange, or Thistly’s Ginger cider served with a shot of Edinburgh Gin Spiced Orange. You can also try blending our Elderflower 0.5% cider with some apple juice for a lighter, sweeter drink. Have fun, be inventive and enjoy the variety that Thistly Cross Ciders offer. Leftover mulled cider is great for poaching fruit to make an intense fruit pudding or a rich, decadent pouring sauce. And at the end of the day, when the cider is all gone, the leftover mix can be put back into the jeely pan to make an exotic, spicy mulled jam.

Part of the fun is in the experimentation, so whatever flavours make it into your finished cider, join us and become a Thistly Mulled Cidermaker for the winter – happy mulling! 

warm up rectThistly’s Favourite Mulled Cider Recipe!

  • 4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1 Clementine, sliced into wedges, spiked with 4 cloves
  • 1 lemon, sliced into wedges, spiked with 4 cloves
  • A big dram
  • And a bigger dram of Edinburgh Gin Spiced Orange
  • A 3 tbsp dollop of honey
  • 1 litre Thistly Cross ginger cider
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • freshly grated nutmeg to garnish
  1. Gently heat all of the ingredients over a low heat in a cider kettle or pan.
  2. Strain and pour the mulled cider into a glass or mug.
  3. Finish with some freshly grated nutmeg and fresh slice of lemon or orange.

The Thistly Cross Cider Range and Scottish Apple Juice are permanently stocked in 5L and 20L BIB Cider boxes so head to our online shop at www.thistlycrosscider.co.uk, or contact info@thistlycrosscider.co.uk for further details.

Happy birthday to us!

birthday apple (lit)It’s 5 years since Thistly Cross began and as ever we haven’t had time to properly celebrate because we’ve been working hard making and supplying cider to loads of venues and events including Oktoberfest (London, Edinburgh and Glasgow) and the BBC Good Food Show.

We’ve also been reaping the benefits of our ‘Apple Appeal’ with tons of apples coming into the Cider Shed from this year’s bumper harvest, and we’re only halfway through the season. We’re busy pressing apples into juice, some of which will graduate into Thistly Cross cider, AND today is Apple Day (yes really, it was initiated a few decades ago by the charity, Common Ground) so it seemed like a good time to answer some of the most common questions we’re asked about bringing in apples.

As long as they are in good, relatively clean condition, and not crab apples, we’ll be interested. Remember, happy, healthy apples make good cider; apple group outside (large)apples in bad condition make bad cider. A few minor blemishes are fine but we can’t use rotten or excessively dirty fruit, or anything that’s been damaged by animals. Here’s a group of good apples that came into the Cider Shed last week – notice that we take sweet eating apples and good, old cookers. The variation in apple types makes for exciting flavour combinations.

rotten apple (front on)And a bad one. The old rhyme does ring true, a bad apple really can spoil the whole bunch. So if any of your crop look like this, or have significant damage, then sorry but we can’t use them.

If you pick your apples from the tree, it’s usually best to get them to us by the following week so they’re fresh. If you have windfalls, we’ll need them sooner after picking, probably the same week. Don’t store them in plastic bags as they can sweat and rot. The best way of storing and transporting is in paper bags, tattie sacks, or open boxes/crates like fish boxes. If your transport containers are plastic, try lining them with paper first – it’ll help protect the apples. You can drop off to the Cider Shed Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, but it does help if you call or email first. red appleWeekend and evening delivery is occasionally possible, but again, give us a ring first.

Next blog we’ll be talking all things warming and a little bit spicy… hint hint. It’s time to get ready to ward off that encroaching wintry chill!

Oh my lederhosen! Thistly Cross is coming to Oktoberfest

Autumn is approaching rapidly, and you know what that means… no, not scarves and hats and all that boring knitted stuff, we mean giant steins of alcohol, tasty sausages and leather trousers of course! ok snapThistly is going to be the draught cider of Oktoberfest in its London (19th-22nd Sep, 26th-29th Sep), Glasgow (17th-20th, 24th-27th Oct) and Edinburgh (9th-13th Oct) events. Last year alone, the Munich event attracted 6.5 million guests who ate (tasty fact alert!) 500,000 roast chickens and 100 oxen, and sold out 6 months in advance. The UK events are heading the same way with tickets selling like hot pretzels, so if you can’t get to Munich, pop on a dirndl and head along to the only official Oktoberfest outside Bavaria where you can fill up on your favourite Thistly and some schlachtschussi. Hope to see you there, prost!

IMG_20130915_144117In other news, the Great Taste Awards 2013 have been announced, and Thistly Cross is a double award winner! Our Original 7.2% cider in both Sparkling and Still varieties wowed the judges in the world’s largest and most rigorous food awards scheme, described as the ‘Oscars’ of the food world. Original Still was singled out as an officially outstanding product, and our Original Sparkling was classified as ‘virtually faultless’. Both now join our other Thistly Cross Great Taste winners, Traditional, Strawberry and Elderflower. Original is one of our most popular varieties so it’s a nice pat on the back especially as the awards involved over 400 judges and blind tasting of an incredible 10,000-plus products.

So now we’re catching our breath after a busy Summer weaving our cider magic to slake thirsts near and far by supplying (and attending) loads of outlets, festivals and events, including the Insider Festival, Cider Summit in Seattle, BBC Proms in Glasgow and many more. We began craft collaborations with Tempest Brewery, producing a limited edition Snakebite & Black; its retro goodness has been going down a storm. IMG_20130906_190723And now as we head into apple harvest time, we’re shining the seasonally appropriate spotlight on our vintage CAMRA-endorsed Jaggy Thistle which is perfect for the slight Autumn chill that’s creeping in. Made with local apples, it offers a satisfying and impressive 7.4% ABV, and is also perfect served half-in-half with our Original 7.2%, giving a combined medium dry finish. And remember, if you’re local to East Lothian with an unloved apple orchard or just too many apples, Thistly wants to know; anything over 10kg gets something delicious in return. Contact details on the website. Here’s to a creative, productive and cosy Autumn!

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.

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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 www.skiddle.com 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…

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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?

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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!

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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.

THE WHISKI ROOMS

“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…

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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!

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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’

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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:

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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.