Orchard fresh apple juice from Angus
Ella Drinks of Brechin using windfall from local orchards to expand range of Scottish soft drinks
Established in 1998 in Alloa, Ella Drinks hit the market with their now widely marketed fruit juice Bouvrage, the intention of which was to make a drink which tasted as close as possible to fresh Scottish raspberries.
Although Bouvrage contains some added sugar and natural flavourings, there is much more fruit and less added sugar than in other such drinks, a recipe which the makers say is down to the particular growing conditions found for berries in Scotland. The lack of sun, they say, produces fewer sugars in the fruit, meaning berries here are among the most naturally flavoured in the world.
The kind of products which are generally found at upmarket delicatessens and markets, Ella’s drinks have a high-end branding and quality reflected in their recent contracts and plaudits, having supplied the 2014 Ryder Cup and won praise from Nick Nairn at the recent Forth Bridges Festival. Having since relocated to a site near Brechin in Angus, married company owners Anne Thomson and John Gallagher have also branched out into blaeberry and strawberry versions of Bouvrage, while a new product named Angus Apples was introduced two years ago.
Much of the fruit for these has been taken from the mature trees within the private walled gardens of their farm, with some individual trees yielding up to half a ton of fruit. ‘Some of the trees are extremely ancient and their variety is unknown,’ says Thomson. ‘However, they’ve lived in Angus for a very long time, and previously they would just have gone to waste.’
Such has been the success of Angus Apples that Ella have also planted their own orchard with seven varieties spread across 150 trees, each chosen for a combination of their flavour and their yield. ‘We use a mixture of cooking and dessert apples,’ explains Thomson, ‘and the juice is less sweet than English apple juice.’ Again, the intention with this apple juice is the same as with Bouvrage – to emphasise the natural characteristics of the fruit over how much sugar can be packed into the juice.