Irn-Bru: 15 things you didn’t know about Scotland’s national drink

Irn-Bru: 15 things you didn’t know about Scotland’s national drink


With Scots stockpiling Irn-Bru in response to an imminent reduction of the sugar content of the soft drink, many people outside of Scotland have been left wondering just what’s so great about the fizzy orange beverage.

The drink currently contains 10.3g of sugar per 100ml, meaning a can provides more than a British adult’s recommended daily amount. 

However this is about to change, with the sugar content being cut to 4.7g per 100ml.

The producers stress that the drink should taste the same due to the including of low calorie sweeteners, but that hasn’t stopped a backlash breaking out and panic buying sweeping Scotland.

Here are 15 things you didn’t know about Irn-bru:

1. It was first made in 1901.

2. It’s known as “Scotland’s other national drink” after whisky.

3. It’s the best-selling soft drink in Scotland and third top in the UK as a whole, behind Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

4. The recipe is a closely-guarded secret which has been handed down from generation to generation of the Barr family. However it’s known that there are 32 ingredients including caffeine, quinine and Sunset Yellow FCF, which is a dye. 

5. Only three people currently know the recipe: former company chairman Robin Barr, his daughter, company secretary and legal affairs manager Julie Barr, and an unnamed AG Barr board director. 

6. Irn-Bru originally became popular because sanitation was poor at the time and it was considered to be a healthy way to boost your energy by many people in industrial areas. 

7. It used to be called Iron Brew, but the name was changed in 1947 due to fears over new labelling regulations.

8. Irn-Bru contains 0.002 per cent iron (ammonium ferric citrate), but it isn’t brewed. 

9. In 2012, Irn-Bru was forced to carry a warning that it may cause hyperactivity in children. 

10. In 2014, the drink was banned from Canada because of the additives it contains. 

11. After the SNP’s sweeping gains in the 2015 general election, Irn-Bru sales in parliament soared by 60 per cent. 

12. McDonald’s in Scotland offers Irn-Bru after an initial backlash when the fast food chain launched in the country without the nation’s favourite soft drink. 

13. When Barack Obama visited St Andrews earlier this year, Scots were outraged when he was seen drinking the sugar-free version of the orange drink. 

14. Irn-Bru has its own tartan which was originally designed in 1969 by Howe design and then redesigned by Kinloch Anderson in the late 1990s.

15. Some people claim the drink might not actually be Scottish at all: According to David Leishman of the University of Grenoble, the first ‘Iron Brew’ drink was launched in 1889 by a New York-based company called Maas & Waldstein.


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