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over the decades
Since we began making ice cream in 1986, we have launched over 220 products, made over 1000 flavours, made countless mistakes and had many good parties – a combination which provides us with lots of fond memories!
the milk ages
ICE CREAM time
Blowing in the wind
30 years of ice cream
The Mackie family begin farming at Westertown farm, Aberdeenshire. Sir Maitland (Mike) Mackie, 1912–1996, (our grandpa) had one of the first tractors in the area and began the milk retail business.
Mackie’s milk retail business grew with doorstep delivery of Mackie’s Milk – ‘fresh from the farm’ to our local area. We sold the milk business to Kennerty Farm Dairy in 1964, but restarted local rounds in the late 1960s, and by 1994 Mackie’s had a substantial milk processing dairy with a turnover of £12m and employing 250 people.
Milk was in everchanging formats. We initially had returnable bottles branded with MACKIE’S MILK, and over the years this changed to (the messiest!) milk in sachet bags, then cardboard cartons and onto plastic bottles. Taste for milk varied too, from the very creamiest “Top of the milk” to skimmed milk. This was the drive behind us making ice cream as we eventually had surplus cream due to the popularity of semi-skimmed milk.
After 74 years we entered the world of real dairy ice cream using surplus cream from semi-skimmed milk. We’d make ice cream in the mornings and sell locally in the afternoon. The first appearance in a supermarket was Fine Fare in Aberdeen and early growth was with Safeway’s supermarkets. Natural ice cream was our first product, very similar to the Traditional flavour you might enjoy today. The original flavour was, (and Traditional still is) a natural creamy ice cream with no other added flavour. The name was changed because “Natural” is deemed a restricted use word on labelling regulations, however it’s tricky to avoid using when describing the flavour!
We made a Strawberry frozen yogurt called Paradice! We were ahead of the game with the product – perhaps not our name though! While it is very popular in many other countries Frozen yogurt has still never really taken off in Britain and our product wasn't on the shelves for long.
With ice cream turnover hitting more than £2.5 million, we converted the old byres (of Winnie the land girl, Wille Watt and Jimmy Philip) and the old mill buildings into a modern dairy capable of an output of 6 million tubs a year. We managed to retain the old water wheel too which you can still see outside our ice cream dairy today.
Honeycomb Crunch is the first flavour added to the classic range – in 500ml tubs. Honeycomb has since gone on to become our second most popular flavour after Traditional. For those with a sweet tooth, this flavour has little pockets of sweetness created by our Honeycomb puff-candy, all made in our Sweetie Kitchen, that melts into the ice cream. That is why we had to change the name from to "Honeycomb Harvest" as there were a few complaints it was not crunchy! This has since been shortened to “Honeycomb” which you can find beside Traditional in many stores across the UK, and as far afield as Asia.
Mackie’s Highland range hits the shelves. This was a dip into Super-Premium flavours in 500ml tubs. Our Scottish themed flavours were Drambuie, Chocolate Fudge, Gaelic Coffee and classic Vanilla, to give customers a chance to try something a bit different. Launched at the Highland Show, they were accompanied with our first TV advert showing off Mackie’s sensual side of someone enjoying a luxurious spoonful of ice cream - a bit risqué for classic Mackie’s Traditional!
A New Product Development Kitchen was added to the ice cream dairy and opened by Sir Ian Mclaurin, CEO of Tesco at that time. We introduced three new flavours Verryberry, Mackawack (macaroon) and Loch Ness Mudster which injected some extra fun into the range with Scottishness remaining at the heart of Mackie’s. We still have requests to bring back Mackawack or Verryberry!
We developed a ‘splendid’ invention of chocolate covered, bite sized ice creams presented in a chocolate box. Delicious, but a challenge for us to get to market as retailers saw them as a seasonal treat like chocolate whereas ice cream is an all year round thing in our mind! Meanwhile, the food service sector struggled to fit this concept into service as you need to keep them frozen and not too near the coffee cup on a saucer! We were definitely ahead of our time as chocolate coated ice cream balls can now be found on supermarket shelves!
‘Mackie’s with More’ was another new range where we teamed up with other Scottish food stalwarts to create new flavour combinations including Baxter’s Orange Marmalade and Walker’s Ginger Shortbread, along with ‘Absolutely Nuts’ and ‘Absolutely Chocolate’. In 1998 Mac Mackie was appointed Managing Director – the 4th generation Maitland Mackie now in charge of the business.
Celebrity cook, TV personality and one half of the Two Fat Ladies, Clarissa Dickson Wright opened our new spiral freezer. Two decades later in 2021, we went on to install a bigger, double drum and state of the art spiral freezer which makes our ice cream smoother and creamier!
Following the turn of a new century, in 2001 we launched Cream of Scottish, our soft scoop vanilla ice cream, in response to Cream of Cornish ice cream that had begun hitting supermarket shelves. Mackie’s Cream of Scottish ice cream remains a very popular 2 litre tub option. During this year we also replaced the old cattle buildings with a new byre and at the time, Mackie’s had Europe’s largest voluntary access milking system with 9 milking robots. We have replaced the machines as they evolved and now have 6 “robots” where the cows milk themselves.
2001 also saw the introduction of MACKICE – a chocolate covered ice cream lolly on a stick. Mackice wasn't the easiest product for us as we did not have the machinery to make it and the recipe needed a tweak to hold up in this format. It didn’t take off, so we stuck to what we know best!
‘Vibrant’, was a Strawberry & Raspberry dairy sorbet with a drop of happiness (orchid essence) which made a fresh extension to the Mackie’s range. It was a low fat sorbet, made smoother with a little dairy, and our added “Good Mood Food” claim because we could provide the happiness effect with orchid essence. The success of the ‘Vibrant’ Strawberry & Raspberry sorbet led to the addition of an Orange & Raspberry dairy sorbet, also with an added drop of ‘happiness’ (Alaskan orchid essence from Shabd Sangeet). Treat yourself and feel good about it... this won two Scottish Food & Drink Excellence Awards.
Scotland goes to the World Cup... well almost! 2002 saw Mackie's first export of ice cream outside of the UK as it was shipped to Korea, and Mackie’s became the official ice cream suppliers to the World Cup. We continue to export our products to countries including South Korea, Taiwan and China.
In 2004 we made low fat Chocolate ice cream for slimmers and diabetics. Sadly this wasn't a product that stuck around for long as was never going to be great, was it?! We also first made ice cubes called Mackie’s ICY GLEN Ice Cubes which saw us win an award at the Grampian Innovation Awards that year. We later renamed our ice cubes ‘Mackice’ (since our chocolate ice lollies were no more) and we’re still making all our ice cubes with spring water using a giant new machine which arrived in 2021.
In 2005 our “Vibrant” products were re-branded and re-launched as Mackie’s Dairy Sorbet - low fat and big on taste. This achieved some new school listings and we were a winner in the Scottish Food & Drink Excellence awards. However, such auspicious beginnings did not lead to success and a few years later the products were gone! We learn as we go though, and continually look forward to the discovery of the next star product - like Traditional!
Going green! We planted our first wind turbine in 2005, which would be followed by two more in 2007 and a fourth in 2015. In 2006, ice cream production at Westertown Farm hit a whopping (at the time!) 5M litres per year! We continually invest in production equipment and are edging towards being the greenest, best ice cream factory... possibly in the world?!
In 2005 Mackie’s also launched 100% iced fruit smoothies in Mango & Orange and Blueberry & Raspberry. Both flavours were another win for Mackie's at the Scottish Food & Drink Excellence awards but a healthy product that people did not buy enough of! Again, ahead of the times perhaps!?
2008 saw a re-brand on our ice cream tubs as we changed over to the ‘green, wind turbine’ design. This celebrated the renewable energy we produce on the farm and placed emphasis on the farming side of the business with the dairymaid incorporated into the logo. This would remain our tub design until 2021 when we rebranded again.
In 2009 Mackie’s moved into savoury and launched a range of potato crisps in partnership with the Taylor family in Perthshire, creating Mackie’s at Taypack. Mackie’s crisps were a huge success in Scotland and abroad. The Taylor family bought out Mackie’s shares in the joint-venture company in 2022, launching Taylors branded crisps in 2023.
Committed to making sure every element of our products reaches our high standards, we began making our own tubs. We now have four injection moulding machines on the farm. 2010 also saw an Open Day at Westertown Farm which raised over £45,000 for Muscular Dystrophy Scotland. Our Sales Director, Denis was with Mackie’s for over 25 years and died in 2013 from Muscular Dystrophy. The fourth wind turbine is named in his memory.
Mackie’s “Extra Posh” ice cream celebrated our quality herd with portraits of tiara-sporting Jersey cows on the tubs. Another 500ml range of lovely ice creams which sadly did not achieve high enough sales to stay with us.
We welcomed chocolate to the Mackie family in 2014! We branched out into a new range of chocolate bars in flavours nodding to our much-loved ice cream - Traditional, Honeycomb, Dark 70% Cocoa and Dark Mint. The following year we had our own Chocolate factory commissioned in an old tractor shed on the farm where we have been making our chocolate on the farm ever since.
Two new Indulgent flavours were added to the ever growing range - Salted Caramel and White Chocolate & Coconut. 2015 also saw Mackie’s introduce a Lavender ice cream, a hand made special for the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, which proved such a hit, we had to make more for the next year.
Renewable energy diversifies with a 10 acres solar panel farm and the fourth turbine is installed. The solar farm was the biggest in Scotland at the time and complements the wind turbines during the summer months when the sun is shining and it's not quite as windy. Scottish Tablet was added to the core range – the Scots do have a sweet tooth! This flavour remains a favourite today.
Mackie’s introduce their Indulgent range with the first two limited edition flavours - Sicilian Lemon Meringue for the summer and Chocolate Orange for autumn. As well as all natural orange essence, the ice cream used Mackie’s own dark chocolate from our chocolate factory and had an extra crunch with chocolate coated orange sugar nibs. Chocolate Orange is a popular combination and not just for Christmas! Mackie’s also responded to demand for ‘grab-and-go’ chocolate bars by introducing a perfect pocket-sized 35g bar to the chocolate range.
Cows curious about Country music! Colin Clyne came to play country music for the cows, and we think they liked it! Listening to music while they milked encouraged some of the herd to come to the milking machine more often. Also in 2016, Great British Menu Contestant chef Michael Bremner visited the farm to learn more about ice cream and the vision of his chosen ‘local hero’, Maitland Mackie CBE - the founder of Mackie’s of Scotland. It was a lovely tribute to Maitland Mackie (2nd generation) from Michael, the owner of the award winning restaurant, ‘64 Degrees’ in Brighton.
We celebrated our 30 years of ice cream anniversary by bringing 30 new flavours to the Royal Highland Show - 30 flavours for 30 years! New flavours included Gin and Tonic sorbet and Caramel Biscotti which proved so popular, they returned to the show the following year.
Breakfast Ice Cream was just some of the 30th celebration flavours which was more extreme than others. We had fun with ‘Black Pudding & Apple’ taking on ‘Bacon & Maple Pancake’ in ‘Battle of the Breakfast Flavours’ at the Royal Highland Show. Perhaps the farming audience have a taste for more unusual flavours because both were quite popular!
Our 2016 winner of the 30th year celebration offer, Rosemary Yeldham, a self-proclaimed gelato aficionado, from Swindon won a lifetime supply of Mackie’s ice cream. We’re pleased to still be delivering down south every year and have since delighted two more Mackie's fans with lifetime supplies of ice cream!
St Clements Ripple was the summer limited edition flavour for 2017. A combination of orange and lemon gave customers an early taste of summer and mood-boosting citrus flavour. In autumn, Italian inspired Caramel Biscotti replaced St Clements as our limited edition Indulgent flavour following it's success at the Highland Show the previous year. Also, but not a surprise to us, it was nice to have taste tests at Abertay University prove Mackie’s Madagascan Vanilla was top of the ice cream class! Mackie’s Indulgent flavour was preferred in blind tasting with other top competitors.
There was a TV appearance for Kirstin on Eat Well For Less. Chris Bavin (presenter) came to the farm, met and talked with the cows and did the Taste the Dairy Difference taste test - which he passed! He was however, surprised to learn some ice creams don’t contain cream and now always advises people to check the ingredients on labels!
2017 saw a ‘sweet unveiling” at the Royal Highland Show. Working with Swiss and French consultants, Mackie’s created a range of luxury chocolates, made with Mackie’s milk and dark chocolate and filled with fresh cream ganache in an array of exciting flavours including garden mint, raspberry, mandarin, whisky and gin. The chocolates went on to be available in the parlour later that year. We also took 19 flavours of ice cream to the show in advance of opening our ice cream parlour Mackie’s 19.2. Flavours included Crunchy Red Fruits, Rhubarb and Custard and Toffee Popcorn, and the hugely popular Gin and Tonic sorbet made a return.
Mackie’s 19.2, our first ice cream parlour, opened in Aberdeen in December 2017 – what a great time of year to open an ice cream parlour!? We were first into the sparkling new development called Marischal Square and enjoyed a first Christmas there. We served over 10,000 scoops in the first 6 weeks, with our speciality local flavour “Buttery & Jam” in the top five favourite flavours.
We decorated an Aberdeen city cab to promote Mackie’s 19.2 and Aberdeen cabbies visited the farm to take the Mackie’s knowledge test. We loved the decorated car so much, we got ourselves our own one for the parlour!
Also in 2018, our staff dreamed up, tested, tasted and agreed on a collection of 28 recipes, both sweet and savoury, for a recipe book using Mackie’s products in support of muscle-wasting charity Muscular Dystrophy UK. You can still purchase a copy at https://www.musculardystrophyuk.org/product/mackies-recipe-book/
This is not just a supermarket listing... this is an M&S supermarket listing! We were delighted to be one of the first as Traditional was added to M&S’s portfolio of “must have” brands in Scotland. Mackie’s Traditional 1 Litre Real Dairy Ice Cream is now widely available in Marks & Spencer across the UK. That year Rhubarb & Strawberry ice cream was ‘a taste of childhood’ for our summer limited edition flavour.
We got creative with some of our flavours in the parlour, but would you dare taste them all? Haggis ice cream was an unusual, but surprisingly popular, one for Burns night – made with real Haggis! We also made a sorbet (for adults) with five pints of Guinness as a special to mark St. Patrick’s Day. “I Scream for Ice Cream” was the theme for Halloween with pumpkin waffles and black ice cream on creepy crepes alongside another haunting flavour, Blood Orange sorbet. Pine Needles were on the menu for our Christmas ice cream!
Kirstin appeared on breakfast news to report on an award winning campaign by Nissan, who created a 'Sky To Scoop' Electric Ice Cream Van. Mackie’s generated world wide interest as Nissan unveiled a zero-emission ‘WHIP-E’ ice cream van for ‘Clean Air Day’ in partnership with us. 5000 little bars of Mackie’s chocolate were given away at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh Easter Trail. A real cocao pod was on the tree in their glasshouse, proving chocolate really does grow on trees!
Mackie’s was the 2019 sponsor for ice swimmer, Jade Perry, who currently holds the British record for the fastest 1km ice swim. She flew to Murmansk to compete in the International Ice Swimming Championships and returned with two gold medals. Jade is pictured with our two most popular flavours, Traditional & Honeycomb - which that year we launched in our 'Mini Collection' - a four pack of little ‘theatre style’ tubs with spoon in lid.
Peanut butter was temporarily on tap at the parlour and proved to be a viral hit! Over on the farm, our continued investment to help meet increased demand driven by exports and further reduce our carbon footprint, saw us purchase a new state-of-the-art machine to produce lids for our two litre ice cream tubs.
As the COVID pandemic hit Britain, we worked through lockdown. Ice Cream sales remained high as it provided a little treat and mood lifter for people stuck at home. Challenging times for all, we instigated daily cobra meetings to keep up wth the changes required and to keep going as essential food workers. We like the idea that ice cream is essential. The North East Scotland Food and Drink Awards was held as a virtual ceremony for the first time and we were double winners! Mackie’s of Scotland was awarded Export Business of the Year as our export sales had increased by 78% with two million tubs of ice cream shipped to Asia from Aberdeen. We also won the award for Food and Drink Business Growth, showcasing our continuous quest to add value and diversify.
Would you say that you’ve found a new appreciation for life’s simple pleasures since lockdown began? An overwhelming 94% responded “yes” in our Simple Pleasures lockdown campaign, which was about celebrating the little things in life which can sometimes bring most joy. Mary Shaw from Sandy, Bedfordshire, was one of our campaign winners scooping a lifetime supply of ice cream from Mackie’s. She will now receive two tubs of Mackie's ice cream every month for life, joining Rosemary as our previous lifetime supply award winner.
We were delighted to have two products recognised in the Great Taste Awards 2020. Salted Caramel received a Great Taste Star and Traditional was once again rewarded with an award as judges described it as ‘...simply delightful. A well-made ice cream that champions the flavour of the cream, is well balanced, fresh, and the simplicity allows the ingredients to be heroed.’ These comments resonate with our ethos and continued ambition of ‘Making Simple Delicious’.
Getting Greener! Construction begins on our low carbon refrigeration unit – an innovative project, replacing all old refrigerant gases with ammonia, a gas with zero climate warming potential. The project was completed in 2022 and we are heading towards being 100% self-sufficient on our own renewable energy.
We launched four festive flavours in Mackie’s Ice Cream Parlour following the previous year’s Pine Needle flavour. Customers enjoyed the choice of Turkey & Cranberry for their main meal and a selection of Gingerbread Crunch, After Dinner Mint or Malteser Reindeer for dessert. In chocolate, we brought out a zingy new milk chocolate Orange in a 120g bar. A great hit over the Christmas period and one that has stayed with us ever since and moved into a 35g bar too.
We kicked off 2021 with a new Mini Selection box, containing a collection of four of Mackie's most popular flavours – Traditional, Strawberry, Chocolate & Mint. This was another of our four packs of little ‘theatre style’ tubs with a spoon in the lid.
We refresh the look of our tubs, which feature our new messaging ‘Mackie’s. Making Simple Delicious.’ Also, the three ‘sacred cows’ (the blue colour, 1L tub shape and the actual cow) are retained. Our new website is launched, as well as new Indulgent flavour Chocolate Orange & Honeycomb, which stayed for longer than a seasonal flavour this time. We also bought a new machine to allow us to make more of our own sauces, like raspberry compote. We didn’t think it was possible, but our Raspberry Ripple ice cream tastes even better now!
Masterchef presenter, Gregg Wallace, visited the farm to film for BBC's Inside the Factory, and gain the inside scoop on how we make our Honeycomb ice cream. Kirstin showed Gregg around the factory and several members of the team were brave enough to take part and talk about their work to Gregg. It wasn't long until we got a big supermarket listing in England for our Honeycomb ice cream, so maybe they were watching too!
In 2022, we asked ice cream lovers up and down the nation to share their "Mackie's Moments" to find out how and where they enjoy their ice cream. Margaret Pitman from Dorset was chosen as our winner and became another one of our lifetime winners of ice cream! Some of the simple to more unusual Mackie's moments included, "Sat outside on a warm summer evening with my ice cream, just watching the world go by" and "A lovely big bowl of Mackie’s ice cream in a hot bubbly bath whilst listening to Michael Buble."
Toffee Fudge became the newest addition to our Indulgent range in 2023 after consumer research found it to be the nation's most appealing flavour combination. It joined Madagascan Vanilla and White Chocolate & Raspberry in our Indulgent range, as the popularity and increasing sales of Salted Caramel led to it joining our core range.