Thistly Cross Cider Wants Your Apples! #apples4cider

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.

Mulling about Christmas

glass xmas 2With Christmas week now upon us and the weather starting to get a little chilly (although it’s a lot milder than usual), we thought it was the perfect time to talk about mulling.  At Thistly we know part of the fun of mulled cider is experimenting with flavours and making your own – chucking in whatever spices and fruits you fancy, or a dash of your favourite spirit. Many of our ciders make a great base for mulling, from the warmth of the Whisky Cask cider, through to the fresh spice of the Real Ginger cider. And we love the idea that there could be hundreds of Thistly Cross mulled ciders out there!

orig treeIf you’re inexperienced with mulling, don’t worry we’ll be gentle. We recommend starting with your choice of Thistly Cross and gently heating in a pan before adding spices.  At the mulled wine event in Covent Garden, Sinea and Cammy added oranges studded with cloves, and some cinnamon sticks with an added glug of Scotch Whisky for an extra kick.

mull spicesOther spices which work well include nutmeg, ginger, cardamom and star anise, whilst rum, brandy or even sloe gin can even be added to create a unique twist on a classic mull. And the addition of fruit juice gives a less potent mix, with juicier overtones – treat it like a punch, add some slices of fruit, and ladle into (heatproof) glasses or cups.

Thistly Cross reversed circle_20151217155019146 xmasIf you are mulling some Thistly Cross (or just drinking your favourite variety!) over the festive period, we’d love to see your results, so Instagram,  Facebook or Tweet us the evidence.

Which just leaves us to wish you a very Merry Christmas from all at Thistly Cross Cider! Thanks for your support and custom and we’ll see you in January with lots of exciting cidery developments planned for the New Year.

Winter at Thistly Cross

The apple season is drawing to a close and things are starting to feel very festive at Thistly HQ; the days are shorter, the air is crisper and the Christmas cards are piling up.  December is one of the busiest months for us, with cider being made, sold and delivered across the country in time for all the celebrations.

We kicked off the Christmas season in style down in London, where Sinea and Cammy launched Thistly’s Mulled Cider blend at the Covent Garden lights switch-on.  They also used some of our core varieties as a base for their own mulling experiments – all of which went down a storm!  Definitely cider-makers in training.


Closer to home, Thistly has a stand at the Edinburgh Christmas Scottish Market in St Andrew Square.  Our core range is available as well as our mulled cider and, as we’re sharing the stand with Tempest Brewing, you can also stock up on craft beer whilst you’re there.  Thistly’s mulled cider is behind all of the official bars for the event, as well as in pubs throughout the city, so you should be able to get your fix around the capital.

20151123_184313-01Across in Glasgow, our signature mulled cider is fuelling the bar in George Square, along with the ice skating rink.  Thistly and ice skating? As long as you skate responsibly, what’s not to love!  And a mug of warming mulled cider is the perfect way to defrost those fingertips after the Christmas shopping.

IMG-20151209-WA0004-01We’ve been spreading the Christmas cheer around the country too – we had a great time at Foodies Christmas Festival in Harrogate at the weekend, as well as Glamis Castle Christmas Market, where we met lots of new Thistly fans.

We’ll be continuing to mull up some Thistly throughout the run-up to Christmas and New Year, and we’ve got tastings planned in Scotmid stores, so keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook pages for all the info. And don’t forget that tonight is your last chance to order through our webshop for cider delivered to your door (mainland UK) for Christmas!

Twitter: Thistly Cross

Facebook: Thistly Cross Cider

Instagram: @ThistlyCrossCider

Thistly Peter Does USA 2015

US Tap handles arrived! edPhew, it’s been a whirlwind couple of months at Thistly, so perfect time to catch up with Peter who is currently on his travels spreading the word about our cider in the good ole US of A! These are exciting times across the pond for us, with two huge containers crossing the Atlantic right now, filled to capacity with Whisky Cask, Real Ginger and 6.2% Traditional ciders. And to accompany them we’ve been crafting some truly bespoke wooden tap handles. Lovingly made by hand for an authentic ‘cask’ feel and look, Whisky Cask badges are now proudly attached.

Bushwacker 2 ed txtTime for the obligatory thumbs-up at America’s original cider pub, Bushwhacker in Portland, Brooklyn. Bushwhacker produce their own traditional ciders and sell a huge variety of local, national and international hard ciders. We were lucky enough to be involved with a ‘Meet The Maker’ event with our good friend and associate Bruce Wright of JK Scrumpy, and it was great to meet so many fantastic US cider fans – thanks Jeff!

Highland Stillhouse edt txt

The Highland Stillhouse also gave us a terrific welcome, thanks Mick and Tammy. And we’re looking forward to welcoming you to Scotland when you visit. The pub has a soft spot for all things Scottish, so we were certainly made to feel at home.

Peter also spent some quality time with Brewsters Fine Foods where they planned an amazing cider-matched dinner, and Cannon Beach Hardware (which is rather affectionately called Screw & Brew); well why wouldn’t you want a hardware store that combines with a PUB?!

Canon beach time capsule edWhy didn’t we think of that? They have a fab time capsule built into the wall featuring a historic Thistly bottle label which is fading beautifully with time.

And fun movie fan fact – Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach is where the Goonies emerged on to the beach from the pirate cave!

Canon Beach 2 (goonies!) ed


Great place, and a great visit – thanks to Ryan, Kimi and both Daves.

A visit to the famous Voodoo Doughnuts was also on the cards, in fact it was deemed a necessity… Its extraordinary menu really deserves a second look. Oh be still our doughnut-loving hearts.

Voodoo Donuts combined

Thanks to everyone for the amazing goodwill Peter (and Thistly!) has found in the USA – we #ciderlove you too.

Thistly’s official export crew will be continuing to tag-team their way across the States during 2015, so we want to hear from you if you’re over there. In April, we’ll be heading to Oregon, Washington, San Francisco/California along with a much-anticipated Thistly Cross Cider launch in Texas, so get in touch and let us know what YOU want to see in America from Thistly Cross Cider!


Thistly Cross Cider Meets Audio Soup

A weekend of cider, summery vibes and facepaint…

What do you get if you cross a field in East Lothian with one thousand and something fancy dress wearing, face paint adorned festival-goers basking in the summer sun with enough Thistly Cross Cider to quench a small, thirsty army? The answer – Audio Soup.

We love small festivals, especially boutique festivals that just so happen to pop up on our doorstep which is why we jumped at the chance to cart along litres of delicious cider, as well as donating 80,000 litres of drinking water, to make sure the weekend and its family of party-hungry revellers never ran dry.

A best kept secret but set to become a regular feature on Scotland’s festival circuit, Audio Soup combines picturesque scenery, summery good time vibes and lashings of live music that transcend genre and – dare we say it – even sanity.

Back for their second year, the lovely people at Audio Soup succeeded in turning a bog standard field just outside Garvald into a mesmerising playground for the senses complete with wooden Stonehenge, Indian market stalls, thumping wubhut and bouncing main stage.

And with the Audio Soup campsite springing up early on Friday afternoon, this three day festival featured round the clock shenanigans, cider tasting, soup slurping and the odd bit of mud, just for old times’ sake!

So, with a cup of red, ginger or elderflower Thistly in hand, the rest of the weekend was spent peppered with appearances from a sterling line-up of bands – Dub Mafia, Bombskare and Mr Woodnote to name but a few as well as plenty of home grown talent.

Big love to the Audio Soup crew for having us along, we’re already prepping the apples for next year.

In the meantime, the crazy festival train doesn’t stop there. We’re in the process of gearing up for this weekend’s antics in the big blue shed at Belhaven Fruit Farm – a night of 3 awesome cover bands: The BlackBeez, Hurricane Jack and The Jammy Devils.

Covers include Kasbian, White Stripes, Kings of Leon, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, T-Rex, Creedance Clearwater Revival and many more.

Tickets are just £10 which includes a FREE pint of Thistly or double spirit before 9pm.

Doors from 7.30pm, bar until 1 – find out more here

Drop by, say hi and enjoy a cider with us as we celebrate one of the last nights of summer.

But for now, peace, love and cider x

Photo credits – Steven Ingle @ Iris Photography