The Scottish craft soda scene is booming, so don’t bother with mass-produced stuff. Here’s our round up of the best brands, from ginger to juice, for picnics and booze substitutes. All of them sell though their websites, but we’ve also included a few physical stockists, in case you feel inclined to go to a real life shop. Mention must also be made to Edinburgh’s excellent Roots, especially their In for the Kill Cherry Soda and Howl (chilli and orange).
Flavours: Cloudy Lemonade, Cream Soda, Bona Soda, Ginger Beer, Cream Soda, Rhubarb Soda and mixers including Salted Pink Grapefruit. They’ve also just launched three flavours - Rhubarb, Ginger Beer and Lemonade - in larger picnic-friendly 750ml sizes.
Edinburgh-based family business, Bon Accord, was originally established back in 1903 in Arbroath. It became huge in the Seventies, before being paused in 2000, then completely refreshed in 2016 by the great-great-granddaughter, Karen Knowles, of the original owner. Since then, we’ve become familiar with the cheery fruit-wedge emblazoned glass bottles. They’ve recently ditched the honey ingredient across their range, so they can be vegan-friendly (sweetness is provided by coconut nectar and fruit juice).
Flavours: Wild Nettle Soda; Wild Bramble and Rosemary Soda. "Our Mint, Cucumber & Chilli Soda mixer is going down well - the chilli certainly gives off a kick that I don't think many people expect! It goes nicely with gin or straight up with ice."
Stockists: The drinks from this one-year-old Edinburgh-based business are stocked at all the best places, including The Little Chartroom on the Prom, Gardener’s Cottage, and Luxford Burgers in Edinburgh, Locavore in Glasgow, among many others.
"Having grown up in the Cotswolds and later moving to Scotland I have always been lucky enough to be surrounded by amazing countryside”, says owner, Hugo Morrissey. ”When I was a child I used to make nettle cordial with my mother and this really inspired me to create drinks using ingredients often found throughout the British countryside. I was previously working in asset management but decided to create my own business. It was my mother’s nettle cordial recipe that inspired me - we have so many of these weeds growing around us and we don't do enough with them."
Flavours: Ginger Ninja, Rhubarb, Cranachan etc. Apparently a Dry Lime is the perfect accompaniment to curry, and Burnt Lemon goes with fish and chips.
Stockists: The Mart, East Linton, Greencity Wholefoods, and others.
This Glasgow-based lot are the cool kids of the bunch, and the only ones who use cans (or tins, if you prefer). They make “soft drinks for grown-ups” in intriguing flavours. If you hurry, you might still be able to get one of the “Yer Da Drinks Diet Coke” posters on their website.
Flavours: Lavender Lemonade, Misty Lemonade, St Clement’s Orange and Lemon and a brand new Ginger Beer. “Our bestseller is our Scottish Raspberry Lemonade, made by ourselves on our farm in Aberdeenshire using Scottish raspberries grown in Angus”, says owner Claire Rennie, who launched the brand in 2014.
Stockists: They’re served at Drift in North Berwick, and can be found at most Scottish Waitrose and Dobbie’s stores, as well as Craigie’s Farm Shop, among others.
Apparently, their first fizzy drink experiments were conducted using a SodaStream and herbs that they grow in their walled garden. In common with most in our line-up, they’re committed to all natural ingredients. They also have a “brother company” - Walter Gregor’s Handcrafted Tonic Waters, with seasonal varieties including a Scottish Neep (only available in January) or Scottish Raspberry Tonic Water.
“Business has been tough during lockdown but we have had enough orders to keep all our staff working full time since last May”, says Rennie.
Flavours: Sexy Celery (celery, apple, lemon, Himalayan pink salt), Zen AF (CBD, celery, apple, lime parsley, etc), Botox, Brain Food, and others.
Stockists: It has its own store at 284 Byres Road, Glasgow, which opened in April. They’re also opening a branch in Silverburn this August.
Fallon Carberry, who established BLOW salons in Glasgow, set up the company earlier this year. Apparently, the drinks have been designed by their in-house team of nutritionists, so they might be worth a shot if you’re feeling a bit ugh post lockdown.
YOU + I
Flavours: White Peony Chamomile Botanical Tea, Juniper Buchu Barley Water and Lime Sea Salt Kombucha, among many others. They all taste very subtle and never too sweet.
Stockists: Visit their own taproom in Glasgow, at Arch 9, 28 St Luke’s Place.
Formerly Clever Kombucha, this company relaunched and broadened its healthy “drinks with benefits” range earlier this year, and now offers barley water and botanical teas, like the above. It’s owned by husband and wife team Kelsey and Alan Moor.
LEFT FIELD KOMBUCHA
Flavours: No. 1 Yunnan Black Kombucha, No. 2 Sencha Green Kombucha, No. 3 Oolong Komubucha, No 4. Darjeeling Kombucha. (We’re a sucker for No. 2 in the summer).
This Eyemouth-based business - another husband and wife team, from Jo and Geraint Roberts - was early to the kombucha game, as they were established in 2016. In our opinion, their drinks, which are made from ethically sourced tea, are the best we’ve tried.