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The Weird and The Wonderful: Meet the Fife business owners serving up mojito, apple pie, peach and watermelon moonshine milkshakes

Rob Duncan with the moonshine milkshakes.

Boozy concoctions are not hard to come by in Scotland, but when it comes to a distinctive drink like a moonshine milkshake, now that may prove a challenge.

But fear not for a popular Fife-based brand, known as The Smoked Thistle, offers just that, so avid lovers of unusual drinks and all things sweet are in for a rare treat.

Founded by Rob Duncan and Blair Armstrong-Payne in September 2019, The Smoked Thistle serves up authentic American-style barbecue food including ribs, burgers, dirty fries, chicken wings, steak, nachos and more.

The apple pie, left, and mojito milkshakes.

And while their smokey, mouth-watering grub has proven a hit with customers over the years, the business’ moonshine milkshakes have also caused quite the stir.

Available in four flavours, apple pie, mojito, peach and watermelon, the milkshakes made with flavoured moonshine cost £8.95 each.

What’s in the milkshake?

The firm started out as a successful food truck enterprise in Fife which saw the co-owners travelling across the region – in the likes of Newburgh, Auchtermuchty, Dunfermline and Buckhaven – to sell their barbecue grub.

Then Rob and Blair moved into premises at Balunie Drive in Dundee in March this year, before opening their first restaurant, based at Craigtoun Meadows Holiday Park in St Andrews, just one month later in April.

Rob preparing one of the boozy drinks.

Rob, 36, says the first thing to be confirmed on the drinks menu at the new restaurant was their moonshine milkshakes.

“When we took on the restaurant at Craigtoun in St Andrews and got our licence, they were the first thing on the drinks menu,” he said.

“Our moonshine milkshakes are made with all-natural ingredients (real fruit and natural flavourings such as honey or vanilla), real ice cream and authentic American moonshine imported from the Palmetto Distillery, which is located in South Carolina, USA.

The different flavours of moonshine available.

“Blair and I were initially approached by Mark Bremner (who is from the UK arm of Palmetto Distilleries and supplies the moonshine) with some samples when he came to try out our food. We didn’t have an alcohol licence but we did love the moonshine.

“After testing out quite a few different flavours, we settled on apple pie, mojito, peach and watermelon.”

Why moonshine?

Just like most spirits, moonshine, a high-proof liquor, is a product of distillation.

It is defined as a homemade, unaged whisky, marked by its clear colour, corn base and high alcohol content – sometimes peaking as high as 190 proof (95% ABV).

Traditionally, centuries ago, it was produced in a homemade still and bottled in a mason jar by illicit distillers. It was made at night to avoid detection as it was usually made illegally and not at a registered distillery.

Rob and Blair said its uniqueness and the fact it is “authentically American” is what they admire most about it.

“We focus on providing our guests with great flavours and a different experience,” Rob added.

“As far as we know, we are the only place in Scotland you can get it. We also support local businesses as much as we can and, with Palmetto UK being based in Kirkcaldy, it made a lot of sense.”

Palmetto Distillery sells South Carolina’s first legal moonshine, known as White Lightning, a 52.5% ABV unaged corn whisky made from a recipe handed down from generations of moonshiners and produced using the distillery’s custom copper still.

The mojito milkshake.

It is used in the business’ mojito flavoured milkshake which is in high demand with customers.

Rob said: “They are very popular among customers! We get great reviews and they have the wow factor when presented to the customer.

“All of the feedback we have had has been great, they say they have a unique flavour and are something they have never had before.”

The Smoked Thistle in Dundee is open from 4-10pm Wednesday and Thursday, 11am to 10pm Friday and Saturday, and 11am to 9pm on Sunday.

The Smoked Thistle in St. Andrews is open from noon to 10pm Wednesday to Sunday.

For more on The Weird and The Wonderful series…