I saw the bottle in a deli and thought ‘why not?’ Actually the label design isn’t up to very much and it almost put me off. There is something about the font that felt very 1970s. But that aside, I was intrigued by the ‘whisky cask’ aged approach. One of my favourite commercial beers is aged in whisky casks and it is lovely. So in to the basket it went. I only bought one because the deli charges a small fortune.
Removing the blue saltire crown cap from the bottle, I couldn’t help but smile. These people are clearly shouting ‘Scotland’ loudly and proudly. Good for them. At 6.7% I would only need to have bought and drunk a couple more bottles before I’d be raising the banner at Culloden with them.
With cider, the regionality is definitely part of the story. I really do feel that if a cidermaker doesn’t proudly state where their produce comes from, they are best avoided. Thankfully this clearly does not apply to Thistly Cross.
So on to the important bit…
The initial pour delivered a slightly sparkling cider with very little colour into the glass. On the nose I got gentle apple notes but little else to report.
However, the first taste revealed a medium sweetness with a rounded smoothness that is rare in ciders. I think the ageing in oak has done something rather special to this brew. It is the epitome of easy drinking cider (think cider for people who don’t like cider), but despite that it does have enough character and complexity to keep a scrumpy lover interested well beyond the first mouthful. I can imagine that having found this at a beer or cider festival I would have returned for a second glass.
It comes from a small batch firm on a farm in East Lothian where cidermaker Peter Stuart uses ex-Glen Moray whisky casks to age and mature his cider. The bottle proudly announces that it is suitable for vegetarians, vegans and coeliacs, which is a nice touch
If we are being picky it is just a little too sweet for my ageing palette and doesn’t last as long in the mouth as I would have hoped; I would love to try a drier version.
In summary, I enjoyed it and would happily drink it again, especially on a summer evening with friends.