Top drinks products from Scotland’s Speciality Food Show
Scotland’s Speciality Food Show took place this year at Glasgow’s SEC between 19th and 21st January. It’s a great showcase for high quality, small batch products often based on locally-sourced Scottish ingredients. As can be expected in the home of whisky, there were plenty of drinks brands. Ryebeck was there to pick out a few highlights and there were many! Here are some of the products that really impressed:-
UK military veteran, Chris Gillan founded The Heroes Drinks Company in 2011 and donates 20% of profits to armed forces charities. The flagship Heroes Vodka is made from UK premium wheat with demineralised Scottish water. It’s seven-times filtered for a beautifully smooth, clean flavour and mouthfeel. The company has also produced a limited-edition Lord Trenchard Gin, which is named after the 1st Viscount Trenchard, “Father of the Royal Air Force.” They only made 1918 bottles, marking the 100-year anniversary of the formation of the RAF in 1918. This 50% ABV premium gin is packaged in a luxury gift box and uses eleven botanicals which are individually distilled before blending.
The Gael Signature Scottish Gin is distilled from malted barley which gives a creamy edge to the taste. It’s made with a mix of traditional botanicals plus the addition of Scottish heather. The uniquely designed label features musical notes from Scottish fiddle tune ‘The Gael’, used in the soundtrack to ‘The Last of the Mohicans.’
Due to the popularity of the 70cl bottles, the company is now launching 20cl bottles of their gin. Nigel Large, co-founder of the company, said: “Our dedication to producing a different high quality, smooth gin culminates in The Gael. Since our introduction to the market, we have gained steady growth and recognition in the independent drinks trade. We are delighted to introduce the 20cl bottle, which is looking great and going forward we are starting to stimulate interest in a number of export markets.”
Lindores Abbey Distillery is a malt whisky distillery based in Fife. They launched in October 2017 and are waiting for their whisky to mature for the minimum three years before releasing it to the market. In the meantime, they have created Aqua Vitae, a handcrafted award-winning botanical spirit with a sense of history. They make the base spirit on-site using locally-sourced grains. They then infuse it with herbs and spices from the gardens within the grounds of the ancient abbey.
Lindores Abbey is associated with the earliest written reference to Scotch Whisky. In 1494, the then Friar made the first aqua vitae there, which was the original precursor of whisky. The distillery has recreated the recipe and updated it for the modern drinker. With a combination of citrus, sweet and spiced flavours, Lindores Abbey Aqua Vitae is a versatile drink. However, it works particularly well as a Highball with ice, ginger ale and a garnish of orange peel.
Tayport Distillery produces spirits and liqueurs with local, hand-collected Scottish grains and fruit. Their unique products include a malted barley vodka, fermented and distilled on site and Scotland’s first eau de vie and cassis, using all Scottish ingredients. Never.25 Raspberry Eau de Vie (42.5% ABV) is particularly impressive and is made using the malted barley base spirit. Pure and vibrant with a pleasing zing of fresh raspberries, this should also appeal to gin drinkers and pairs beautifully with Merchant’s Heart Floral Aromatic Tonic. It’s available in 70cl and 5cl bottles.
Small family business, Blackford Craft Distillery creates authentically Scottish spirits, inspired by the landscape and history of Aberdeenshire. They produce vodka and gin at their micro distillery near Inverurie, using pure spring water and locally-foraged botanicals.
Vesperis Pictish Vodka (40% ABV) is a botanical vodka, made with heather honey, heather blossom and apples. Vesperis Pictish Gin (40% ABV) adds other botanicals, including lemon peel, while Vesperis Heather Honey Vodka (37.5% ABV) is infused with Aberdeenshire raw heather honey. They will soon be releasing their latest product, a very impressive Orange Old Tom Gin (37.5% ABV). Judging by a sneak tasting at the trade fair, this is likely to be a big success!
J. Gow Rum, launched 2017, takes its name from the infamous 18th century Orkney pirate John Gow. It’s produced on Lamb Holm, a tiny island connected to mainland Orkney by the Churchill barriers. This surely makes Lamb Holm the smallest rum-producing island in the world!
The company imports high-grade molasses, which they then ferment for a minimum of seven days in a temperature-controlled 2000L fermenter and still. They produce a range of styles, but showcased just two of them at the trade fair. Fading Light is a 43% ABV rum aged for one year in chestnut casks. It’s a smooth, pale gold-coloured expression with subtle notes of dried fruit, nuts, gentle spice and vanilla cream. Spiced Rum is a 40% ABV rum with less than 5g/l sugar. Together with the addition of natural spices and caramel, this makes for a more unusual and quite refined spiced rum that’s not too sweet or overly spicy.
Coul Brewing Co. is a family-owned and operated award-winning craft beer microbrewery, founded in Glenrothes in 2017. The name comes from the Coul Reservoir, originally built in 1890 to supply the Haig Whisky Distillery.
The company uses local ingredients in its beer whenever it can, producing bottles, cask and keg beers. Their core range includes one vegan beer, Emperor’s New Clothes (6.2% ABV), an unfiltered New England-style IPA, full of juicy fruit flavours. For retro fans, 80’s Revival is a smooth 4.7% ABV Scottish ale, brewed with six different types of malt. Notes of caramel biscuit and a touch of hop bitterness make this a smooth and delicious beer.
Founded in a lock-up garage in 2012, St. Andrews Brewing Co. is the lead brewer for the famous golf club’s Links Trust. They brew award-winning beer from the heart of St Andrews, a town internationally known for its golf, university and tourism. The company purchased a new brew kit in 2019 and has expanded production capacity as demand for its beers rises.
A recent addition to their range is Tom Morris Scotch Ale, a beer with notes of sweet malt plus a hint of caramel and named after the four-time Open Champion, Tom Morris, perhaps golf’s first ‘superstar’. As well as playing the game, he made golf equipment, helped design the Old Course and was the father of modern greenkeeping. This beer is available in keg and cans, only at St Andrews Links’ three clubhouses, Old Pavilion, Halfway House and the St Andrews Brewing Company bars in Fife.
Winton Brewery from East Lothian started off as home brewers on a kitchen table in 2014. They now have a twelve-barrel brewery, source and mill all their grain locally and have given their beers unmistakeably Scottish names! Oh Ya Bassa is a peach and raspberry sour that’s true to its description and named after a brilliant Billy Connolly ‘swearing’ sketch. As the website says, “Drink, blether and be happy”!
For reviews of other trade fairs and beer or spirits events, have a look at some of the other articles on Ryebeck’s Industry Insight pages.
Author: Robin Goldsmith of The Write Taste.