Lindisfarne Mede Continues 900 Year Old Tradition from the British Isles and Passed Down to Bay Area Couple

Share Article

"History in a Glass" comes to Bay Area. Lindisfarne Mede continues 900 year old tradition from the British Isles and passed down to Bay Area Couple. Doug & Elizabeth Acton Met-and-Married by Descendent of Island Residents.

Quite literally, it is "history in a glass." Made from an ancient recipe handed down from Medieval monks of a remote British isle to a Bay Area couple who were married by a minister who spent his boyhood summers on the island, Lindisfarne Mede ( does indeed have an historic provenance. Still made entirely by hand, the unique elixir described in Beowulf as "the drink of kings" is made only one place on earth: St. Aidan's Winery on "The Holy Island" of Lindisfarne.

"I spent many summers there as a child," says Dal Burns, one third of the trinity now known as Partners in Spirit, sole importers of the unique elixir. "When Doug and Elizabeth met I knew – as did they – that this was an historic and spiritual union. What better gift than a bottle of the rare spirit I had seen made as a child. It was unavailable anywhere except on Lindisfarne."

Doug and Elizabeth Acton – the other two-thirds of Partners in Spirit – were gifted by Burns with a bottle of Lindisfarne Mede and were hooked: by the taste, and by the richly romantic tale of its creation. Going back to Medieval traditions, Burns, an ordained Unitarian minister, took the couple's suggestion and performed a "handfasting ceremony" to bind their relationship which he performed in their garden in San Rafael, California in August 2004. Serendipity seemed present everywhere and an idea was born: why not bring the taste of their love to the rest of the World? The friends decided to go into business and in January 2005 Partners in Spirit was formed with one product: Lindisfarne Mede.

"There are many legends about the power of mede," says Doug. "Called the 'nectar of the gods', it was tradition for the bride and groom to toast each other for the first full moon cycle of their married life, for fertility and desire. It is here that we get the word and the tradition honeymoon."

"Another legend from this tradition was that the honey would raise the PH level in the bride's body," notes Elizabeth wryly, "thus increasing the chance of the first born to be a male."

Mede has had its impact and popularity dating back to ancient times. Gildas writes of King Arthur's affection for mede and in Chaucer's Miller's Tale, the merry priest woos his lady love with the finest mede he can buy.

In the year 634 King Oswald sent St. Aidan to Lindisfarne Island to spread Christianity to Northumbria. A priory was built on Lindisfarne and the monks started making mede. The next few centuries saw the destruction of the original priory and in the 14th century King Henry VIII took the original stones and built a small keep on the point of the Island. Lindisfarne Castle remains today – a National Trust property -- a mystical presence on the island's promontory and visited by hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

The original mede or mead was a blend of honey, water and yeast, enabling the sugars in the honey to ferment into wine. Over time the recipe evolved, eventually refined to the now internationally acclaimed Lindisfarne Mede. Handed down through generations, produced commercially at St. Aidan's Winery on Lindisfarne since 1962, the natural process remains the same: honey from the four corners of the world and artesian water from the long existing wells on the island. It is the blend of a half-dozen ingredients from the family's secret recipe, including edible herbs, fortified with a distilled spirit that sets apart this hauntingly unique taste. The purity and soul of this drink demands it be served at room temperature; cozy by the fireplace or on a warm summer's day, the hint of sweetness combined with its velvety dry finish provides an evocative and memorable taste, and has the imagination of Bay Area chefs racing with potential food pairings. Where will it take you?

For more information and to purchase online go to


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Visit website