Saint Andrew’s Day 2018
You don’t have to be a Scot to celebrate St Andrew’s Day on 30 November
And it’s on a Friday this year, so even more reason to raise a glass to both Scotland’s patron saint and the end of the working week. All around the world, Scots people and those who love their beautiful country and its unique culture will be marking the day in their own way.
Whisky is well established as Scotland’s national drink, with 128 Scotch Whisky distilleries operating across Scotland and 39 bottles a second shipped overseas, so it might seem like the natural tipple with which to toast St Andrew. However, it is by no means the only home-produced alcoholic drink.
Scotland also has a long and rich history of beer brewing, dating back over 5000 years. Scots beer was even endorsed by the Greek explorer Pytheas in 325 BC, when he declared that Scotland was “skilled in the art of brewing”.
Today there are over 100 craft brewers in Scotland – a huge increase on just 11 breweries in the country in 1970. The majority of these are small, often family run businesses who aim to take brewing back to its roots, employing and updating ancient crafts and traditions.
The proliferation of brewers means that there is a huge choice in types and styles of beer. The new wave of brewers is still producing ale that celebrates the traditional, full bodied and malty character of Scots ale – but also draws on wider influences.
Award-winning Fyne Ales, brewed on the family farm in rural Argyll, produces over 70 different ales in the course of a year. Most of these are seasonal, special and one-off beers to try new brewing techniques, explore recipe ideas and collaborate with other breweries. Their three core year-round beers are a blonde, a pale ale and traditional amber ale, while at the other end of the scale are their Origins Brewing beers: small-batch, experimental brews showcasing mixed fermentation, oak-aging and finishing and locally-foraged ingredients.
Cider making is not usually associated with Scotland, but in fact Celts made cider from crab-apples in the twelfth century – a process continued by the Romans. Nowadays Thistly Cross Cider uses a blend of Scottish heritage apples, hand-pressed at their Cidershed in the heart of East Lothian, to produce seven varieties of cider, from farmhouse to strawberry (the berries for which are grown on the farm.and whisky cask. Like Fyne Ales, Thistly Cross also produces limited editions and collaborative brews. Cider aficionados should certainly add Scottish cider to their list of different regional brews to sample.
If you fancy something stronger, but would still like an alternative to whisky, what about Scottish rum? This is truly something different. Dark Matter is the first Scottish rum distillery, based in Banchory, Aberdeenshire. As well as their range of craft rums, Dark Matter also produces spiced rhubarb and chocolate orange liqueurs.
Find out more about Fyne Ales, Thistly Cross and Dark Matter at Comesto.