Welcome to our new member Blackthorn. This incredible sea salt is delicious and sparkling: beautiful flakes with a wonderful sense of terroir.
Blackthorn use 100% pure west coast sea water to work their magic. You really can taste the sea and nature. The crystals have a tiny hint of golden hue from passing through the thorny sloe (blackthorn) branches, trickling peacefully over the thorns and down the tower. Each twig with its enhanced surface area from the thorns plays it role in increasing the salinity as the water drops travel downwards. The sea wind does the rest until only an intense briny liquid is left to collect at its base. Ascending the tower is simultaneously awesome and calming: the constant gentle sound and the strong wooden beams are reassuring and powerful. Food production using the elements!
And what is this tower?? The graduation thorn tower is the only one of its kind in the British Isles and indeed the only one in the world today producing salt. When they were in use they were not even used for sea water but linked to underground springs where land was rich in salt deposits so Blackthorn has quite a few firsts to its name!
Such towers existed to produce salt by removal of moisture through evaporation within giant wooden frames. The massive bundles of blackthorn are key to its success due to the impressive surface area where the thorns are a key contributor. There are still a few towers in existence in Germany, Poland and Austria where they are used in spas for their recognised health benefits, linked to springs and nowhere near the sea! In their quest to create Scotland’s first thorn tower, the Marshalls visited Poland and whilst it was a fascinating learning journey, no one remained who had constructed the towers and so the skills were lost. On returning to Scotland, they set about designing and working with an enthusiastic group of craftsmen and the result is fantastic.
Once Blackthorn’s salty brine leaves the thorn tower, it spends a short time in the panhouse to form the final beautiful inverted crystals that make Blackthorn Sea Salt. Their tower is within metres of at least eight historical salt-making businesses that were once in Ayrshire – such incredible historical links.
Blackthorn Salt is both environmental and an exceptional example of craftsmanship. Producing top quality delicious sea salt in this incredible structure, using nature, it has a real sense of place in terms of the local history of salt and in terms of the terroir the Marshalls have achieved in their product.
Beside the wall-of-thorns sits their 1880’s GNER passenger coach, sensitively restored and a gorgeous addition to the landscape – Blackthorn HQ. It is beautifully equipped using organic materials, vintage furnishings and a fabulous Esse log stove for heating and cooking. There are also excellent information panels.
With great flexibility in this charming space and pop up tables and benches available, it has great potential for future events, as they say, be it salty days or foodie nights!
‘Blackthorn is proud to have brought salt home to the West Coast of Scotland where it was once such a thriving local industry, essential to the daily lives of local people.’