The Kingdom of Fife, filled with flavours and history
‘Most people would associate the Kingdom of Fife with the home of golf, which is indeed the case, but look closer and you will find a lot more than just that’
I was invited along with the other Scotlanders to spend the weekend in the Kingdom of Fife. This region of Scotland lies about an hour north of Edinburgh. What Fife, as it’s called locally, is mainly known for being the home of Golf in St Andrews. This is where the R&A (Royal and Ancient Club) are based and where the famous Open Championship is hosted and golf has been played here since the mid-16th century.
Fife is a lot more than golf though and we were all there to explore the beautiful beaches, local Scottish larder and the wealth of historic castles and abbeys.
Crail, a beautiful and quiet seaside village
Neil and I were staying in the idyllic village of Crail, which is located on the south east of Fife in the East Neuk area. This village is well known for its picturesque village centre with many cottages and its lovely harbour area.
We stayed over in self-catering accommodation at the ‘Beach House Walk’ www.beachhousewalk.com which is a 2 bedroom villa and located in the outskirts of Crail and a short walk from the Roome Bay Beach and only a short drive from the village centre. This was to be our home away from home during our visit to the Kingdom of Fife.
While you stay over at the beach house walk, you can use their bikes and helmets which are included to explore the local area and using the many bike trails in the area. The accommodation has some nice homely touches and offers great free Wi-Fi for guests staying.
I started my weekend as I often do, with getting up for sunrise and this morning I made my way to Crail Harbour, in hope for a lovely sunrise, I was not disappointed!
‘From Dream to Dram’
Why have just one dram, when you can have many more! Make sure that you get a lift by someone not tasting them though, oh yes and enjoy them responsibly! Sláinte…
Doug, the founder of Kingsbarns Distillery, was playing a game of golf on the beautiful Kingsbarns golf course and had a vision, which is today Kingsbarns Distillery. It opened its doors on 30th November 2014 and are already a busy site with it’s ideal location on the Fife coast situated on the Cambo Estate and only a short drive from St Andrews.
Doug took us around the visitors centre and told us about the history of the site, the owners and how it had today become to be the magnificent Kingsbarns Distillery. The buildings on the site has a lot of history and the Kingsbarns entrance in fact use to be a malting mill, which fits perfect with today’s purpose as a distillery entrance. They have looked at also using the entrance and coffee shop for private dinners and drinks, in collaboration with a local hotel, so watch this space.
For the official distillery tour, we had a young and passionate American guy, Drew taking us around. Despite having visited a lot of distilleries over the years, this was the first for such a young distillery, but the site still has the local history and passion you would find in a well-established and famous Whisky Distillery anywhere in Scotland.
It was interesting to learn that the rain that now falls over Cambo Estate and on Kingsbarns, will take up to 60 years to go through the ground, before then to be pumped back up only to be made into Kingsbarns Whisky! They also use the locally grown spring barely for malting, with a vision of the whisky coming out a lighter lowland flavour for full enjoyment.
Like with most other Scottish Distilleries, they are using 200L Bourbon casks, these are from Kentucky US, Heaven Hill and using them should bring vanilla and floral notes to develop in the Whisky.
They are also using some large 500L American Oak Sherry casks, to bring out different flavours and colours, with a fruitier and sweeter taste. These casks are in limited supply, so more expensive, so Drew asked us to make sure we also buy sherry, so there will be more casks for them to produce great whisky! These casks will be used for their special edition and single cask releases.
The team at Kingsbarns started filling casks in March 2015 and they would need to wait at least three years and one day before they can start to bottle their new whisky. They hope to have their first releases in 2018 and what do they expect the whisky to be like; elegant, fruity and floral characteristics
Writing this back already makes me want to taste the whisky, although I am having to wait another couple of years for the final product!
After we all had our tour of the distillery, it was time for the very important tastings and I was the one left for this treat (with my wife kindly being my driver for the day!) As the Kingsbarns own whisky is of course not yet bottled, we tasted anything from the Lord Elcho to the Chimney Peat, (which my favourite and such an amazing peaty whisky) from the Wemyss Malts who are the parent company to Kingsbarns.
Myself and Doug sat in one of the smaller tasting rooms, above the distillery and below is a ‘taste’ (pardon the phrase) of what we tried out during the next hour, seemed like an hour in heaven!
Such a wonderful selection of both blended Scotch and single cask whisky’s we tried during our tasting. Although I am no whisky connoisseur, it was still a wonderful experience and I was even fortunate enough to be one of the few lucky ones to taste their Kingsbarns Whisky (as spirit strength of 63.5%) before it had been able to mature in one of their casks. This was fantastic as you could imagine walking into the distillery and finding the flavors that came out.
After the tasting we said my goodbyes to our new friend Doug and his team. We then made our way to the Eden Mill distillery, where I had an afternoon planned of Gin tasting, a good thing I was not driving that or the following day!
To find out more about Kingsbarns Distillery or plan your visit for one of his fantastic tours and their brilliant tastings, have a look at their website http://www.kingsbarnsdistillery.com/ or give them a follow on twitter @KingsbarnsDist
Eden Mill, Brewery and Distillery
‘Gin, as it should be at Eden Mill’
It was great to have an opportunity to also visit the fairly new Eden Mill craft brewery and distillery. They produce some great craft and artisan gin, all inspired by local flowers, berries and anything that could add a unique flavour and distinct taste.
It was Kevan, one of the co-founders of the local brewery and distillery, who was doing the days talk and our guided around the brewery and distillery. It was founded in 2012 and have since then won several awards for their innovative brewing and also their sustainable attitude towards brewing and distilling. Eden Mill are now the only company to have Scottish Whisky, Beer and Gin produced under one roof. They are also currently building up the onsite bar and hope to have over 120 different Gin’s available, many of these to be Scottish craft Gin’s, by the end of 2016.
The site on which Edin Mill is located was originally in the hands of the Haig Family, who was distilling there from 1810 until 1869
A new rule seven years ago came into force, which meant that many more small gin producers could open up and are therefore now producing wonderful craft gin right across Scotland. This must be a benefit to us all!
Copies of William Hogarth’s prints of the ‘Beer Lane’ and ‘Gin Lane’
We had a look around the facilities and distilling area. They have three stills for their Gin, which has all been named individually after the owners children. Just because it’s not local and personal enough already, a really nice touch.
Now for the best part that everyone had been waiting for, their amazing taste!
We had the pleasure of tasting the Original Gin, Hop Gin, Love Gin and their Oak Gin. My favorite was the Oak Gin, served over ice with a garnish of Orange slice. I was not too sure about the chilli garnish in the Hop Gin, my preference was the slice of lemon, a nice zesty freshness.
To find out more about Eden Mill Brewery & Distillery or plan your visit for one of their fantastic tours and tastings, have a look at their website http://edenmill.com/ or give them a follow on twitter @EdenMillSTA
Q-BBQ Restaurant, St Andrews
For dinner we had the opportunity to visit the recently opened Q Barbecue, American Style Diner, but done in Scotland with local and fresh produce. This was my first visit to such a style of restaurant and I was not disappointed. It had been a long (and for me hard day with all those tastings!) so we were pleased to be able to move our dinner time a little earlier than scheduled. From the moment we arrived the team were extremely welcoming and attentive and nothing was too much trouble.
I really liked the open kitchen style and the fact that you could see everything getting prepared and finished off. The Pulled Pork I had was not only a very large portion, but also extremely tender and literally fell apart when the fork touched it. It was clear from the taste that the meat had been left to marinate for a long time, as the taste was outstanding.
A great big thank you to Iain and the team for looking after us and we look forward to returning in the near future and keep up the good work! Q-BBQ Restaurant, St Andrews
Our drive back from St Andrews to Crail included a few photography stops, I loved these little road signs!
One of the many beautiful beaches around the coast of the Kingdom of Fife.
Lone Golfer playing on Crail Golf Course during a fantastic sunset
Sunset over Crail Harbour, I could not have missed that!
Thank you to Historic Scotland for letting us visit http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/
During the weekend we paid a visit to several beautiful and historic sites in Fife. The three sites visited were, St Andrews Castle, St Andrews Cathedral and Dunfermline Abbey and Palace. To find out further information about each of these fantastic sites I have included the links for you to plan your next visit there.
The view from St Andrews Castle towards St Andrews Cathedral.
If you wish to see more about our Scotlanders visit to the Kingdom of Fife, please visit www.thescotlanders.com or follow us on twitter @scotlanders
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed and please note all views are my own and any questions you may regarding this or any other of my visits around Scotland, please feel free to get in touch directly or via the Scotlanders email on firstname.lastname@example.org