How It’s Made
Real Dairy Difference
How It’s Made
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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. Sold to Kennerty Farm Dairy in 1964, but restarted local rounds in late 1960s, and by 1994 Mackie’s had a substantial Milk processing dairy with milk retail with turnover £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 plastic bottles. Taste for milk varied too – from “Top of the milk” the very creamiest to skimmed milk. This was the drive behind us making ice cream as we eventually had surplus cream due to the popularlity 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. First appearance in a supermarket was Fine Fare in Aberdeen and early growth was with Safeway’s supermarkets. Natural ice cream was our first dairy ice cream, 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! While it is very popular in many other countries Frozen yogurt has still never really taken off in Britain, do you think it ever will?
With ice cream turnover hitting more than £2.5 million, we convert the old byres (of Winnie the land girl, Wille Watt and Jimmy Philip) and old mill buildings with water wheel into a modern dairy capable of output of 6 million tubs a year. Traditional still in rectangular packs and our “natural” flavour.
Honeycomb Crunch is the first flavour added to the classic range – in 500 ml tubs. Honeycomb goes 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 as it softens and partially dissolves into the ice cream. That is also why we had to change the name from “Honeycomb Crunch” (there were a few complaints that it was not crunchy!) to “Honeycomb Harvest”, which we subsequently shortened to “Honeycomb”. You can now find Honeycomb 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 and 500ml tubs – our flavours were Scottish - Drambuie, Chocolate Fudge, Gaelic Coffee and, the classic, Vanilla, to give customers a chance to try something a bit different. Launched at the Highland Show and accompanied with our first TV advert showing off Mackie’s sensual side showing someone enjoying a luxurious spoonful (a bit risqué for Mackie’s Traditional!)
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, Loch Ness Mudster, Verryberry and Mackawack (macaroon) injected some extra fun into the range. Scottishness remaining at the heart of Mackie’s business ethic. We still have requests to bring back Macaroon or Verryberry!
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 – retailers saw them as a seasonal treat like chocolate (ice cream is an all year round thing in our mind!) while the food service sector struggled to fit this new thing into service - you need to keep them frozen and not too near the coffee cup on a saucer! Truffles were ahead of their time – as we have seen other products come and go. Who knows, they may yet have their time.
‘Mackie’s with More’ a new range where we teamed up with other Scottish 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 – 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. In 2021 we went on to install a bigger, double drum and state of the art spiral freezer.
In 2001 we launched ‘Cream of Scottish’, our soft scoop vanilla ice cream as a response to the Cream of Cornish. 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 - at the time Mackie’s had Europe’s largest voluntary access milking system with 9 milking robots. We replaced the machines as they evolved and as of 2021 we now have 5 “robots” – where the cows milk themselves.
2001 also saw the introduction of MACKICE – a chocolate covered ice cream lolly on a stick. Mackice was made 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 and Raspberry dairy sorbet with a drop of happiness (orchid essence) make 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 and Raspberry sorbet led to the addition of an Orange and 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.
Going global - Mackie’s ice cream is first shipped to Korea. Scotland goes to the World Cup (almost) and Mackie’s becomes the official ice cream suppliers to the World Cup.
In 2004 we made low fat Chocolate ice cream for slimmers and diabetics... this was never going to be great, was it?! We also first made ICE cubes- called Mackie’s ICY GLEN Ice Cubes – and another winner at the Grampian Innovation Awards. We later renamed ‘Mackice’ and we’re still making ice cubes with spring water - with a giant machine arriving in 2021.
In 2005 our “Vibrant” products were re-branded and re-launched as a Mackie’s Dairy Sorbet, low fat and big on taste. This one 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 it’s gone! We learn as we go and are looking forward to the discovery of the next product - like Traditional!
Going green. We planted our first wind turbine in 2005 – which would be followed by two more in 2007. In 2006 production at Westertown Farm hit a whopping (at the time!) 5M litres per year! We continually invest in production equipment and are now 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 and Orange and Blueberry and Raspberry. This product was both another winner at Scottish Food & Drink Excellence awards and a healthy one that people did not buy enough of! Again, ahead of the times perhaps!?
In 2009 Mackie’s moved into savoury and launched a range of, now famous and globally available, potato crisps! This was in partnership with the Taylor family, of Taypack potatoes, to create Mackie’s at Taypack. We also had a re-brand on our ice cream packs as we changed over to the ‘green / wind turbine’ design.
Committed to making sure every element of our products reaches our high standards we began making our own tubs. 2010 also saw an Open Day at Westertown Farm which raised over £45,000 for Muscular Dystrophy Scotland. Thousands of people came to the farm for an enjoyable day, looking round the farm and ice cream dairy. 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 tub. Another 500ml range of lovely ice creams... but did not achieve high enough sales to stay with us.
2014 saw the arrival of CHOCOLATE! 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 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 fourth turbine installed. Scottish Tablet was added to the core range – the Scots do have a sweet tooth! This flavour remains a favourite in 2021.
2016 and Mackie’s make our first two limited edition flavours in the indulgent range - Sicilian Lemon and 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 on the farm. The ice cream 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 fix to the chocolate bar range.
Cows Curious about Country music! Colin Clyne came to play his country music for the cows – and we think they liked it! Listening to music while they milked encourage some of the cows 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.
‘Cattle Moo Nicely with Mackie’s Cow-veralls’ There have been many crazy headlines over the years, but this one was a beezer! It was related to one of our prizes - a special cow-shaped onesie...
30 flavours for 30 years – at Royal Highland Show. We celebrate our ice cream anniversary in style by topping up our number of flavours to 30 with the likes of Gin and Tonic sorbet and Caramel Biscotti.
Breakfast Ice Cream was just some of the 30th celebration flavours were more extreme than others – we had fun with ‘Black Pudding and Apple’ taking on ‘Bacon and Maple Pancake’ in ‘Battle of the Breakfast Flavours’ at the Royal highland show. Perhaps the farming audience made this possible – 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 as we write in 2021!
St Clements – was the summer limited edition flavour for 2007 – a combination of Orange and Lemon, giving customers an early taste of summer and mood-boosting citrus flavour. In autumn, Italian inspired Caramel Biscotti flavour replaced St Clements as our limited edition indulgent flavour. Also, not a surprise to us, but 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. A show special was a gift box with 18 types of hand-made chocolate – and went on to be available in the parlour later that year. We also took 19 flavours of ice cream to “the Heilan” in advance of opening of 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.
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.
Also in 2018, our staff dreamed up, tested, tasted and agreed on a collection of 28 recipes, for a recipe book using Mackie’s products - both sweet and savoury - 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 tubs 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.
Ice Cream specials – would you dare taste them all? Haggis ice cream was piped into the parlour 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 and pine needles were on the menu for our Christmas ice cream!
2019 continues to be a busy year as Kirstin appears on the breakfast show to report on an award winning campaign by Nissan creating a Sky To Scoop Electric Ice Cream Van with Mackie’s generating world wide interest as Nissan unveils zero-emission ‘WHIP-E’ ice cream van for ‘Clean Air Day’. 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, 34, 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 we also launched our mini collection that same year, 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 cheered up with a double win! Mackie’s of Scotland was awarded Export Business of the Year as our export sales had increased by 78% and 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 litre tubs of ice cream every month for life, joining Rosemary as our current lifetime supply award winners.
Having two of our products being recognised in the Great Taste Awards 2020 is a tremendous achievement. Salted Caramel was recognised with a Great Taste Star and Traditional was once again recognised with an award. Judges described our Traditional ice cream 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 - 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 Christmas Tree flavour. In 2020 Aberdonians enjoyed the choice of Turkey and Cranberry for their main meal and a selection of Gingerbread Crunch, After Dinner Mint or Malteser Reindeer for dessert. In chocolate, we broght out a zingy new milk Chocolate Orange in a 120g size – a great hit over the Christmas period and one we think has legs for more than that!
We kicked off 2021 with an updated Mini Selection, now contaning a collection of four flavours – Traditional, Strawberry, Chocolate & Mint – in another four pack of little ‘theatre style’ tubs with spoon in lid.
We refresh the look of our tubs, which feature our new messaging ‘Mackie’s. Making Simple Delicious.’ and 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. We have also bought a new machine to be able to make more of our own sauces – like the raspberry ripple sauce with raspberries from a local supplier. We didn’t think it was possible, but our Raspberry Ripple ice cream tastes even better now!