Drink up in the Borders: A non-alcoholic tour of Scottish Borders Drinks

Published on 25 Jul
6 min read

What to drink when you’re not drinking

Many folks are changing lifestyles. Wellness and mindfulness are the millennial buzzwords, and with this in mind, many people are choosing to cut out or minimise their alcohol intake. Since the new drink driving laws came into Scotland in 2014, pushing a zero-tolerance agenda, there has been a huge gap in the market for soft drinks makers to fill. In January 2018, it was estimated that over 3 million people took part in Dry January according to a survey commissioned by Alcohol Concern[1].

Social and Teetotal

What is important for people is to get the same sophistication and tingle from a soft drink, as they would a glass of wine. There is a growing trend for teetotalism, brought together by mixing cultures, beliefs and the wellness trends of millennials and Generation Z. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) the highest percentage of those who don’t drink regularly, or at all, is the 16-24-year-olds, where a staggering quarter of them rescind drinking culture[2].

The growing trend to avoid alcohol shows how societal views of drinking and socialising are changing. Buzzwords from the health and lifestyle industry such as wellbeing, free from movements and mindfulness are all reasons why people are turning their backs on alcohol consumption (latest figures suggest 1 in 5 adults in the UK is teetotal[3]). The soft drinks companies that have latched onto this idea, or have seen sales and interest increase, and as a result, are offering people a drink that is relevant for all occasions.

Scottish Borders has a few notable talents; here are 4 to have a look at.

The Producers

Left Field Kombucha

The fermented tea company in Scotland is situated in humble Eyemouth, on the South East coast of the Scottish Borders. This working fishing town is home to Left Field Kombucha, run by a husband and wife team and Scotland’s 1st kombucha brewery. Since starting in 2016, they have received national acclaim for their distinctive products with acknowledgement in 2017 from the Scotland Food and Drink Excellence awards and the Great Taste Awards.

What is Kombucha?

Simply, kombucha is a fermented tea with renowned health properties and a natural probiotic; an essential component for a healthy gut. It has origins in eastern Asia, a well-known hub as an ancient wellbeing source. Kombucha has a similar fermenting process to beer, and other fermented products by using bacteria and yeast. Left Field has created a sophisticated alternative to alcohol which is full of flavour and gives the natural buzz of a feel-good product. Inspired to formulate a ‘soft’ drink without being sugar-laden, with unexplained additives, and that was good tasting they stumbled upon kombucha. Being the 1st kombucha producer in Scotland has led them down a pioneering road, especially since the new drink drive laws have been introduced. Left Field has found a gap in the market and wisely utilised the demand for a low alcohol drink and are now a popular business drinks company around the country.

What’s on Offer?

Left Field Kombucha - What's on offer?
Left Field Kombucha – What’s on offer?

Left Field Kombucha use teas from the Ethical Tea Partnership. The award-winning No. 1 Yunnan Black kombucha tea has an earthy full-bodied taste. The province of Yunnan in China is referred to as the land of tea; it is thought that tea plantations started there. Tea is very important in Chinese culture, but as well as our own. Left Field Kombucha offers a different perspective of tea outside the typical British comfort zone. As well as selling loose leaf teas, Left Field currently has four varieties of kombucha to sample.

  • No. 1 Yunnan Black
  • No. 2 Sencha Kukicha Green
  • No. 3 Tung Tung Oolong
  • No. 4 Darjeeling Flush

Three Hills Coffee

From fermented tea in Eyemouth to locally roasted coffee in Selkirk. Three Hills Coffee, named after the 3 Eildon Hills and are silhouetted on their logo. Three Hills Coffee started in 2016 supplying beans to local business and is also the first coffee roastery in the Scottish Borders.

What is so special about Three Hills Coffee is their encouragement for customers to participate when choosing their blend and openly invite people into the roastery. Their mission is to supply great tasting coffee, ‘rock solid’ customer service with locality at the heart and supply ethically sourced coffee. Some of the coffees are seasonal dependent, but this just enhances the freshness of this brand.

What’s on Offer?

They have a variety of coffees to choose from, but the one always on the menu is the Eildon Blend and the Reiver Blend. Eildon is their first blend, using 3 types of beans from South and Central America (Brazil, Colombia and Guatemala). It is the one they supply to many businesses around the Scottish Borders. It is a great all-rounder coffee.

Three Hills Coffee also have a varying selection of single origin beans from places like Ethiopia and Sumatra. They have the option of mail-order subscriptions, as well as supplying many local Scottish Border outlets. When selecting mail order you have the choice of how your beans are ground which depends on how you brew your beans.

Laprig Valley

Laprig Valley - Family Photo
Laprig Valley – Family Photo

Located in Greenlaw, near Duns, is Laprig Valley, a Scottish Borders apple juice producer, which began in 2006. From a farming heritage dating back to the 17th century,  husband and wife team, Jackie and Lorna Fleming, have adapted to the changing scene of farming to create a high-end product. They use produce to reflect the seasons; look out for Apple and Chilli juice, a winner at the Food Talk Show in 2017, for a winter warmer or try the thirst-quenching Gala Apple Juice in the summer highs.

Laprig Valley only uses produce from the UK and they use their own fruits which they grow on the farm. The apple harvest is between September and February so half the year is spent harvesting apples at their best. The apples are traditionally pressed and there is nothing else added – no dreaded sweeteners or sugar – aside from ascorbic acid (vitamin C) as an antioxidant. The motive behind a single variety juice aims to showcase each apple’s own taste profiles. For instance, the Bramley apple is generally a dryer, tangier variety which makes it easy to mix as well.

Laprig Valley‘s bottles are environmentally friendly. They use recycled glass bottles which are sold in 20cl and 70cl bottles and encourage their customers to also recycle. They also create limited editions that are seasonally dependent. You can find Laprig Valley juices at farmers markets, delicatessens, local cafes and bars.

What’s on Offer?

Here are some of the single variety and blends that Laprig Valley make:

  • Bramley Apple Juice
  • Pink Lady Apple Juice
  • Gala Apple Juice
  • Apple & Chilli Juice
  • Apple & Rhubarb Juice
  • Apple & Raspberry Juice

A little thirst quencher …

At the Bottom of the Bottle

The rise of teetotalism and the imposed sugar tax has left gaps in the market for health-focused, sophisticated beverages. Customers are looking internally at local drink producers to fill this gap and it looks like the small guns are taking on the big ‘uns. So why not take a break from sugary soft drinks and alcohol and find drinkspiration around the Scottish Borders? Tell us your favourites on social media.

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