Honey bunch: A taste test of some of Scotland's finest honeys
Honey is a special local food, requiring the cooperative efforts of thousands of bees and skilled keepers. The Larder makes a bee-line for the best.
Heather Hills Farm’s Scottish Blossom Honey
From just north of Blairgowrie, Heather Hills’ bees play a crucial role in pollinating the famous soft fruit from this part of Perthshire. Blossom honey is harvested in late June, and tastes milder, smoother and lighter than heather honey. This one is soft set and really quite sweet, though nice and creamy as well. www.heather-hills.com
Hood of Ormiston’s Scottish Blossom Honey
A blossom honey from East Lothian with a paler colour and firmer set. Not so sweet, it’s a soothing, mild flavour for the morning slice of toast. Small-scale beekeepers like Hood have attracted interest for the theory that hay fever sufferers can benefit from eating locally produced honey: a bit like seasickness remedies, however, it works for some but not others.
Nicoll’s of Strathmore’s Flower Honey
Nicoll’s home base of Milton Haugh, between Dundee and Arbroath, is in prime position to benefit from lowland flowers in spring and heather from the upland slopes in summer. Although richer tasting and darker in colour than the blossom varieties tested, there were fewer of the nuances of flavour we found elsewhere. www.miltonhaugh.com
Honeyhill Bee Farm’s Scottish Heather Honey
With its toffee consistency, dark colour and distinctive rich taste, heather honey is one of Scotland’s unique foods. The St Cyrus bees who make this spend July and August in the Grampian foothills feeding on purple heather flowers. A bit too strong for some, a wee drop on a pancake and your heart will be in the Highlands.
Urr Valley Heath & Wildflower Honey
A clear, runny honey from a beekeeper near Castle Douglas. While it carries the perfume of the wildflower blossoms, it doesn’t carry the same richness as the set honeys, but the style is a good choice for mixing into yoghurt or museli, or adding into a honey and wholegrain mustard salad dressing.
WS Robson’s Tweedside Honey
This lovely mix of flower and heather honey comes from a farm that’s actually in Northumberland, but inevitably the bees forage over the border. Honey, after all, takes pride in the food miles the bees clock to produce a single jar. This has a long, layered flavour and lots of body, without the oomph of full heather honey. www.chainbridgehoney.co.uk