No holiday would be complete without experiencing the best local cuisine. Historically the UK (and least of all the Scottish Highlands) hasn't exactly been renowned for fine dining. However, things have certainly changed in the past couple of decades as tourism has increased in the Highlands and islands and locals have risen to the challenge, keen to show-case their local larders. From local venison and salmon on the menus of Michelin Guide listed restaurants, to small-batch coffee roasters, a smattering of gin producers, decadent afternoon teas, freshly caught fish and chips, local breweries and of course many whisky distilleries. There is plenty on offer, so treat your taste buds and sample some of best food on the Scottish islands. Here are our recommendations; from fine dining experiences to local delicacies, and indulgent offerings.
Whisky, Islay & Jura
World-famous as the whisky isles with 9 distilleries (and counting!), Islay and Jura are home to more whisky distilleries than all of the other Scottish islands combined. On our Islay & Jura Whisky Trails trip you'll discover the water sources and processes involved in producing famous brands like Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Bruichladdich. From rich peaty flavours and smoky undertones whisky is the heart and soul of these laid-back islands in the Inner Hebrides.
Arran Cheese, Isle of Arran
For any cheese-lovers the Isle of Arran Cheese Shop is a must on a visit to Arran on either our Arran Coastal Way walking holiday or Scottish Island Hopscotch cycling holiday. The southerly location of Arran, and the lush surrounding pastures of Ayrshire are unrivaled elsewhere in Scotland giving Arran cheese a special edge. Located near Brodick, the island's capital, the shop sells many great variations on the classic cheddar from chili, oak-smoked, and chive to the more unusual ginger or raspberry infused wax-coated blocks. Why not pop in a buy a block for your picnic lunch? Delicious!
Gin, Isle of Harris (Outer Hebrides)
The Isle of Harris Distillery greets you as you arrive off the ferry in Tarbert. And what a welcome to the island! Take a tour of this community-focused distillery and buy a bottle of their unique gin. With an interesting botanical blend the gin is infused with sugar kelp, and comes in a beautiful bottle that will double as a great keepsake from your trip. The perfect serve is tonic water and red grapefruit, but why not try it in a martini for a Hedridean twist on a classic?
Fine Dining, Isle of Skye
The Kinloch Lodge hotel is one of the best fine dining experiences on the Isle of Skye. The hotel features on our Luxury Highlands & Isle of Skye Rail & Hike and Best of Skye In Style trips, but if you're a foodie it's worth visiting even if you aren't overnighting to sample the mouth-watering cuisine on offer. Make sure to call well in advance to book though! They also offer a sumptuous afternoon tea and a foraging experience for something that's a little bit different.
Stornoway Black Pudding, Isle of Lewis (Outer Hebrides)
The town of Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis is renowned for it's "black pudding". Admittedly, when you list out the key ingredients of Stornoway Black Pudding as beef suet, oatmeal, onion and blood (the source of its dark colour) it is likely to sound unappealing to most. However, this well-seasoned, rich, moist sausage-shaped pudding is a local delicacy, not just on the isles but across the country. Normally served in a slice with a cooked breakfast or alongside meat cuts such as chicken or with burgers for extra flavour.