Food news and views from a modern Scottish perspective
Modern-day alchemy: A young Edinburgh-born Glaswegian is leading the artisan soft drinks revolution
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Gregor Leckie is a modern-day alchemist - or should that molecular sommelier? His raw soda, under the brand name of Rapscallion, is already making waves in the hippest bars and restaurants, and looks set to make Scotland a leader in the new generation of artisan soft drinks.
But Gregor Leckie, a GP’s son who attended Fettes College and has recently installed himself in the Glasgow Collective at the Gallowgate to develop his own soft drinks company, is going one step further with what he calls raw sodas - using techniques employed by Michelin starred chefs for food. As far as I know, he is the first to do so. He’s already running “taster kegs” at various pop-ups and events, and in the next weeks he’s poised to have his first permanent outlet in a Michelin-rated Glasgow restaurant. He also has one of Edinburgh’s most progressive restaurants in his sights.
Fruits and vegetables such as cranberries, candy beetroot and pineapples are mixed with spices and herbs, vacuum sealed and placed in Leckie’s bespoke sous-vide water bath to “cold-cook” until they reach what he calls “biting point”. He also creates his own low-sugar organic syrups to add to the juices before triple-carbonating them while avoiding the aggressive fizziness of many commercial brands. Each can be made and delivered in bespoke kegs within six hours.
They taste fresh and their soft petillance delivers intense layers of flavour that reveal themselves slowly. They don't flood the tastebuds with nothingness like some commercial fizzy soft drinks, and as mixers they're intended to compliment rather than dominate botanical dominant craft spirits.
This 29 year old modern-day alchemist - or molecular sommelier - says he loves “playing with specific ingredients in a coherent manner” and his work chimes with the current foodie obsession with provenance. His ambition is to create a range of site-specific sodas using foraged ingredients. “I’m not aiming to take out Schweppes but I do want to start a counter-culture,” he told me.
He’s naturally hesitant to divulge the exact process he’s taken 18 months to perfect. And with good reason. It’s surely only a matter of time before the big brands look to tap into the emerging market Leckie is now curating.
* a version of this article first appeared in The Herald
Gregor Leckie's Rapscallion raw sodas, made at the Glasgow Collective, use methods normally employed by chefs.