Food and drink has been at the very heart of Scotland for a long time. Well known for the quality of its fresh food, world-class products and award winning culinary skills.
Going back centuries, expertise in distilling quality spirits is also in the region’s DNA. You can get a real local flavour with the regions abundant malt whisky and Scottish Gin producers.
Some foods such as haggis, smoked salmon and shortbread have become iconic to Scotland, while others such cock a leekie soup, black pudding, porridge, mince and tatties, venison, clootie dumpling or cranachan, to name but a few, have become national dishes.
Here in North East Scotland, the distinct landscape, fertile fields, fresh water springs and rivers, all play a key role in producing the best home-grown, ingredients.
Creatively used to produce tasty, tempting dishes in the area’s award winning pubs, restaurants and hotels. Where better to sample and enjoy some of Scotland’s fresh and authentic produce.
We cannot hope to do full justice to the amazing diversity and range of local good quality produce on offer from the North East area, but we highlight a few that you may or may not have come across.
This region is a destination renowned for its acres of rich, fertile land and the clear spring waters which cut through it. However the rugged terrain also adds a special something to locally produced spirits and beverages.
Whisky – Scotland’s national drink, whisky, “uisge beatha” in Gaelic (oosh-ga beh-huh), means “water of life” has been produced for longer than anyone can remember.
In Moray Speyside, home of the Malt Whisky Trail why not visit the oldest producing distillery Strathisla, the home of Chivas or travel south to Perthshire to Dewars of Aberfeldy. The region produces arguably some of the best single malt whiskies in the country.
Did you know that “Angel’s share” or “Angel’s tax” refers to the 4% of whisky that evaporates every year, however once the bottle is opened the angel can’t touch it, as it does not evaporate!
Gin – 70 % of gin produced in the UK is actually made here in Scotland? You’ll find a superb range of various styles, infused with some wonderful natural botanicals. When visiting the area do try the local ones such as Porters or Gordon Castles which we can thoroughly recommend.
Rum – Did you know that the first rum distillery in Scotland can be found in Banchory. No, well do try out their Dark Matters Rum available at local establishments.
Beer – Brewing in Scotland has taken place for over 5,000 years, started by the ancient Picts, who used spruce and heather in their fermented refreshments. Today the ingredients and methods used in breweries may have moved on but the ales are even more distinctive and wonderful.
With a range of handcrafted brews, choose from local ones such from Deeside Brewery, Brewdog or the smaller micro breweries. These local spirits and ales can be found in many of the local pubs or hotels as there is a strong sense of local provenance from the field to raising your glass.
Whatever is your tipple – “ Slainte Mhath” Good Health
Aberdeen Angus cattle have been recorded in Scotland since at least the 16th century in Aberdeenshire and Angus. Angus cattle, better known as Aberdeen Angus, a breed of cattle, commonly used in beef production, across many areas of the world.
William McCrombie who farmed at Tillyfour, not far from Alford, was a pioneer and champion of the breed. In 1824 he began to improve the stock and is today regarded as the “grandfather of the breed”.
Aberdeen Angus is the world’s finest beef breed with world recognition for its quality meat and easy cared for cattle. The statue of the Aberdeen Angus bull just outside Alford is a place of pilgrimage for cattle breeders the world over and commemorates the work he and others did in developing the breed.
Recently Highland Beef has become a sought after local produce featuring on many local hotels restaurants menus for example Maryculter House. This is thanks to the hard work of Grace at Aberdeenshire Highland Beef with her award winning Highland herd. She also offers farm tours and experiences showcasing the well loved iconic “Highland Coo”. These hands on tours are suitable for all ages and highlight the local provenance and “field to fork” moto.
Reared and farmed on local estates the meat of a deer, classed as game, is a red meat similar to beef but leaner and with a slightly richer taste. It is increasingly popular for this distinctive flavour and the high protein content, classed as healthy lean meat, popular as a burger or in a stew and can be found on North East menus.
The River Dee running right through the heart of the Royal Deeside valley is one of the world’s best known rivers for Salmon, as is the famous River Spey in Speyside and the Tay in Perthshire. But perhaps little known, is that Scottish Salmon was the first foreign product to gain France’s prestigious ‘Label Rouge’ quality mark. Distinctive and delicious, this versatile, oil-rich fish is a popular restaurant choice appearing on many menus around the world, including here in the North East. If you want to try your hand at Salmon fishing the Kincardine Beat on the River Dee offers you just that in stunning Royal Deeside scenery.
Cambus O’May creamery produces fine Scottish artisan, cheese using family recipes of unpasteurised milk and hand crafted traditional methods. The recipes haven’t changes in 50 years nor has the way they make the cheese. Pure, unadulterated, unpasteurised goodness, and in their words “Made with love to be consumed with passion” Visitors to the Cambus O’May’s facility between Dinnet and Ballater are invited to watch the Deeside creamery in action from the viewing area.
The world famous brand Walkers started from very humble beginnings in 1898 in Torphins, when Joseph Walker opened his own bakery with a loan of £50. His dream of making one of the finest shortbreads did come true as the brand continues to make delicious shortbreads from its home in Aberlour.
Deans of Huntly in Aberdeenshire offers you the perfect stop for viewing this Scottish delicacy in production with the option to purchase as a perfect gift.
Famed for its bottled fresh spring mineral water with healing properties, Deeside Mineral Water flows naturally from the ancient springs on Pannanich Hill near Ballater. From a modest start where they hand bottled in a single room and delivered water from the back of a car, the company has grown to supply water across the UK and the world.
Wild Scottish Heather
The name Heather may come from the old Scottish word “Haeddre” from the 14th Century but it is also sometimes known as ‘Ling Heather’, the old Norse word ‘Lyng’ meaning ‘light in weight’. Perfectly suited to the wild and rugged hills of Scotland and grows freely spreading it’s glorious purple hues across around 5 million acres of Scottish moorland, glens and hills, including here in north east Scotland.
It’s believed that the Picts developed a recipe for Ale that relied entirely on the Heather plant for its’ sweetness and fermentation. It was valued so highly that the recipe was kept a secret, with only the King and his first-born son knowing what went into it. This ‘secret potion’ was then be passed on down through the generations. Heather is also made into heather honey, jam and marmalade.
During your visit to the area why not try new tastes, take a food & drink tour with our tour guides Bothies & Bannocks, More in Moray Tours or Still Tours Scotland. Ask for recommendations about local dishes or check out the specials board at local eateries. If you are not sure of something on the menu, ask the staff, as they will be happy to explain & recommend.
So wherever you eat or whatever you try, we hope you: “Bhuaireadh Your Taste gucagan”
(Gaelic for Tempt Your Taste Buds)
Other Useful Info :
The Northern HighLights Pass helps you to create a bespoke itinerary for your short break or longer Scottish holiday in the North East of Scotland. Purchasing a Northern HighLights Pass enables you to plan ahead, know before you go, plus, there are big savings to be had on entrance fees to the many excellent visitor attractions across the region. Visit the best for less!
Your Northern Highlights Pass is available as a digital pass and can be easily downloaded straight onto your smart phone. Alternatively, you can purchase a hard copy pass and this will be mailed out to you
So if you are interested to know more, remember to follow us on the Northern Highlights Pass social channels and also sign up to the “North East Blether” if you have not already done so.
Ready to start exploring? Northern Highlights visitors pass enables you to visit the best – for less. Buy your pass and start your adventure!
So whatever you choose to do in the next few weeks and months please do remember to stay safe and continue to follow the Guidance To Protect The Environment, yourself and all our local communities.
#RespectProtectEnjoy #RediscoverAbdn #MajesticABDN #MyAngus #ScotFoodFort21 #ProvenanceFestival2021