Another day, another variety of Thistly Cross. This is one that my parents brought down last weekend.
Real Elderflower is very tasty – the best elderflower cider I’ve tried – and actually feels quite light, so it’s a nice one for the summer. It’s not too sweet either, so I’m not at risk of drinking it like juice.
Only one more Thistly Cross variety to log. I wonder when that will show up?
My parents brought some more Thistly Cross down for me last weekend, meaning I have some new flavours to log.
Thistly Cross Original is the earliest (obviously) and strongest of the Thistly Cross varieties. I first discovered it when it was the only variety of Thistly Cross you could get – back when Geth and I still lived in Edinburgh, there was a wee shop across the street from us called Nina’s that always sold interesting beer and cider. Geth would always pick up Polish beer – Tyskie and Zywiec – and I would grab the Thistly Cross, which they usually had in stock. It’s 6.2% vol, so it does knock you out a bit if you have too many at once, but it’s very tasty – the taste is similar to the Traditional variety, but more strongly alcoholic, as you might expect.
I don’t often drink this one nowadays – I usually have the lighter varieties – but it is nice occasionally.
There was a couple of years where Geth and I were having a lot of trouble tracking down Thistly Cross Real Ginger, which is our favourite of the Thistly Cross varieties. They sell it at Tebay service station, but we only ever have cause to go there when we’re travelling with my parents (it’ll be a different story when we have our own car, but that hasn’t been the case up till now). However, recently a new beer and cider shop opened at Newcastle Central train station, Centrale, which sells every single variety of Thistly Cross (among many other tasty, tasty things). As such, I pick up a bottle every time I happen to be in the train station.
I’ve always loved this one. The ginger taste is really sharp and tangy, and it goes so well in a cider that I’m amazed I’ve not seen it by any other brand. They’d have to work pretty hard to beat the Thistly Cross version though. Probably in my top three ciders of all time.
Due to spending the second week of my Christmas holiday in Edinburgh not drinking much (partly due to an alarmingly big gain at Slimming World after the first week and partly because my brain wasn’t coping with the booze very well, hence my decision to do Dry January), when I left to go home to Newcastle there was still a large undrunk quantity of the Thistly Cross cider that my parents had bought in preparation for my visit. They kindly brought some of it down with them when they visited earlier this month, which was highly appreciated.
Whisky Cask is my second favourite of the Thistly Cross varieties (and would probably be top if Ginger weren’t so rare and hard to find). The whisky taste is gorgeous and really gives the cider a delicious richness. I’m not a huge fan of whisky itself but I love this. One of my all-time favourites.
It’s Burns Night…and I’m not eating haggis. I know, I’m a bad Scot. But getting the stuff in England tends to be a right faff, which means acquiring a Burns Supper has become a lot more ‘interesting’ since I moved away from Scotland in 2011.
A brief history of my Burns Supper eating:
1985-2002: Burns Supper at home, cooked by parents, complete with horrible off-key chanter playing by my dad (who is a good musician but not a regular chanter player) as we ‘piped in the haggis’ and people reading the Selkirk Grace off a teatowel
2002-2011: as above, except that I no longer lived at home so went round to my parents’ specially; my dad had given up on the chanter playing by this point as well
2012: our first Burns Night living in Southampton – Geth bought extortionately-priced veggie haggis from a butcher and made a decent if not entirely presentable job of cooking it, but I felt SO HOMESICK
2013: went to eat at a cafe in Southampton where they were serving ‘haggis’ made out of tomatoes and had people onstage reciting really patronising attempts at ‘Scots’ poetry – had to leave before table flipping occurred
2014: still in Southampton; had friends round for Burns Supper, which was slightly ruined by Geth buying the wrong veg due to English supermarkets’ insistence on calling neeps by the wrong name (they call it ‘swede’ instead of ‘turnip’ for some reason, so he ended up getting something completely different that did not mash well at all)
2015: we were preparing for a stressful move from Southampton to Newcastle, so Burns Night, along with various other late winter celebrations like Valentine’s Day and Shrove Tuesday, fell by the wayside that year
2016-2017: took advantage of only living a 90-minute train journey away from Edinburgh to go land on my parents for Burns Night again, just like old times
2018: did vaguely plan to go up to Edinburgh…but house moving has struck again, and we’ve been too busy/tired to get organised
Dry January also means no toasts with whisky or Thistly Cross cider. I couldn’t even find any Diet Irn-Bru at the supermarket today. Living in England strikes again.
To make up for the lack of the haggis picture that would obviously accompany this post had I cooked any, have a link to Tam O’Shanter, my all-time favourite Burns poem.
It’s probably fitting that my first proper post is about cider; I do drink a lot of the stuff. I did originally think about doing a blog where I tried a new one every day for a year, but in recent years I’ve realised that I do need to have dry days most of the time. Still, I’m going to review them here when I do drink them.
I like pretty much all flavours of Thistly Cross, but some of them can be a bit heavy. This is a nice, lighter option at 4.4% (the Original and Whisky Cask flavours are both over 6%, for comparison), so it was very welcome yesterday when I was starting to get that really sluggish, boozed-out feeling you have towards the end of the Christmas period.
Scotland isn’t typically known for cider production, but Thistly Cross is most definitely one of my favourite ciders. Expect to see a few different flavours of this posted over the next wee while.