Taste test - Scottish Honey

  • The List
  • 5 March 2009
Scottish Honey

From top left to bottom right: Honeyhill Bee Farm’s Scottish Heather, Hood of Ormiston’s Scottish Blossom, Heather Hills Farm’s Scottish Blossom, WS Robson’s Tweedside, Nicoll’s of Strathmore’s Flower, Urr Valley Heath & Wildflower

Honeyhill Bee Farm’s Scottish Heather Honey ●●●●
454g, £5.49 at Peckhams
With its toffee consistency, dark colour and distinctive rich taste, heather honey is one of Scotland’s unique foods, with bees spending July and August in the Grampian foothills feeding on purple heather flowers. A bit too strong for some, a wee drop on a pancake or in a hot toddy and your heart will be in the Highlands.

Hood of Ormiston’s Scottish Blossom Honey ●●●●
227g, £2.95 from Real Foods
Another blossom honey, from an East Lothian beekeeper, but a paler colour and firmer set. Not so sweet, which gives a mild flavour for the morning slice of toast. There is a theory that hay fever sufferers can benefit from eating locally produced honey: a bit like seasickness remedies, it works for some but not others.

Heather Hills Farm’s Scottish Blossom Honey ●●●
340g, £3.15 at Real Foods. www.heather-hills.com
Just north of Blairgowrie, Heather Hills’s bees play a crucial role in pollinating the soft fruit from this part of Perthshire. Blossom honey is harvested in late June, and milder, smoother and lighter than heather honey. This one is soft set and really quite sweet, though nice and creamy as well.

WS Robson’s Tweedside Honey ●●●●●
454g, £4.49 at Earthy, Dobbies and other outlets.
A lovely mix of flower and heather honey from a farm in Northumberland, but inevitably the bees forage over the border. Honey, after all, takes pride in the food miles bees clock to produce a single jar. This has a long, layered flavour and lots of body, without the oomph of full heather honey.

Nicoll’s of Strathmore’s Flower Honey ●●●
227g, £2.85 from Milton Haugh farm shop, Real Foods. www.miltonhaugh.com
Milton Haugh between Dundee and Arbroath is in prime position to benefit from lowland flowers in spring and summer heather. Although richer tasting and darker in colour than the blossom varieties tested, it lacked the nuances of flavour we’d found elsewhere.

Urr Valley Heath & Wildflower Honey ●●●
340g, £3.50 at Herbies
A clear, runny honey from a beekeeper near Castle Douglas. Lacking the richness of the set honeys, it’s a good choice for mixing into yoghurt or museli, or adding into a honey and wholegrain mustard salad dressing.

For details on where to get Scottish produce, keep an eye out for The Larder, coming soon with The List.

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