Scottish Cider Brandy

A couple of weeks ago, an e-mail popped into my inbox inviting me to the launch of a Scottish Cider Brandy. Now, I might like a drink, but I’ve never thought to myself “You know what is missing from my life – a brandy made from cider”.  However, I decided to put my doubts to one side and head along.  And I was very pleased I did!

The new spirit is a collaboration between Strathearn Distillery in Perthsire (probably Scotland’s smallest distillery…probably) and Dunbar-based cider maker Thistly Cross to produce the unique product, which claims to be Scotland’s first Cider Brandy.

Tony Reeman-Clar, found of Strathearn Distillery, explains how the idea came about: “Distilling cider was something I’d always been interested in, so I applied for a cider licence when I built the whisky distillery, just in case.”

The new spirit has been released in small batches, with only 200 produced in the original run. And to add even more experimentation to the mix, half of the spirit has been matured in virgin French oak casks, with the other half matured in American oak.

I tasted both spirits on the night, and for me, the French oak finish just had the edge.  The crisp and crunchy apples from the cider still came through, but using the virgin oak gave it slightly more bite than the American finished product.

This is essentially Calvados cider brandy from Normandy, but due to EU laws, can’t be called that. In fact, ‘cider brandy’ isn’t even an approved product name.  Instead, it should be known as ‘cider spirit’.  However, with a glint in his eye, Tony said that 200 bottles won’t bring down the European Union, and slapped Cider Brandy on the bottle anyway.  Or who knows – maybe this is what finally caused our Brexit from the UK?

Unfortunately, every bottle of Scottish Cider Brandy have already sold out, but more casks are already being prepped and I’ll be first in line to buy them when they hit the market.

Click here form more information about Strathearn Distillery and here for more information about Thistly Cross Cider.