Based in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland this local family business is run by Sarah Leahy with occasional help from her 4 sons. Sarah is a mentor with Tarland Bee Group and a Trustee of the Scottish Native Honey Bee Society
Sarah’s Bees work tremendously hard to produce honey and she loves sharing the amazing array of honeys that her bees create. She has many hives throughout Royal Deeside and each location creates a different flavour and texture due to the ever changing nature of the surrounding wildlife and flora. Some honeys her bees produce are monofloral and others multifloral.
The bees produce a wide selection of honeys available from a mild oil seed rape to the strong traditional ling heather honey. Each season is different and the bees are completely at the mercy of the Scottish weather to provide conditions suitable for the nectar to yield and the bees to be able to get out and forage. This means that each honey Sarah’s bees produce is unique, and limited edition which is just one of the reasons we love Royal Deeside Honey – Each jar you receive will be different from the last, but every single one, delicious – Variety is the spice of life!
The question we get asked most often is “Why does the taste and colour of our honey vary so much?”
Honey comes from the nectar of flowers and it just depends which plants the bees have been collecting nectar from as to what the honey tastes like. Sometimes the honey is essentially from one nectar source – like oil seed rape or heather and sometimes it is a general mix from spring or summer flowers and trees – that mix is never the same twice and so our blossom honeys differ each season and year. Isn’t nature wonderful!
Soft Set Heather Honey - Birkhall
This Soft set Heather honey is very special indeed, collected from the King’s Garden, Birkhall, which is now part of the Balmoral Estate in Ballater. Hidden from view behind acres of mature woodland, Birkhall is a 53,000 acres estate perched above the River Muick. Birkhall (from the Scots Birk Hauch: “Birch River-meadow”)
This Darker soft set honey has a slightly more runny texture, less stiff than typical soft set honey like the Tarland soft set but retaining some thicker texture. It’s similar to Manuka honey as it’s Monofloral, with strong antibacterial properties, and in its strong taste but with a whole different flavour. This is one of our favourites.
As soon as you open the jar, you are met with the intense, heady, floral aroma of Scottish Heather. The smell transports you to the heart of the Cairngorms Mountain range in late summer when the purple heathers adorn the hills, mountains and forest floors of Scotland. The taste is like no honey you have ever tasted before, deep and complex. Intensely floral. Sweet and caramelised, where salty, malty elements are also present. Colour: A velvety dark caramel, reddish to dark amber. Food pairing? Layered over strawberries and clotted cream. On hot buttered sourdough toast, with sharp strong cheeses and salty crackers and for something really special : ribboned over ice cream for a sumptuous evening treat.
There has been debate about the antibacterial strength of Pure Scottish Heather honey compared to the highly priced New Zealand Manuka honey. Recent studies have shown that Scottish Heather Honey has the ability to kill microbes, proving it a strong contender in competition with Manuka Honey. Scottish Heather honey also has many antioxidant, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties that can help treat and relieve symptoms for colds and coughs. It also helps to soothe a sore or scratchy throat naturally and it can boost the immune system. Eating a spoonful of Heather honey a day can help to stave off colds because of its antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.
This new study means that for us, Pure Scottish heather honey is a fabulous, and much cheaper alternative to New Zealand Manuka Honey. With the obvious added benefit of it being so much closer to home.