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To say that food and drink is at the very heart of Scotland would be an understatement. More than just a night out, Scottish food and drink is the very lifeblood of Scotland’s the country’s fabric, culture and economy.
With our rolling, rural hillsides, clear coastal waters and lush, fertile lands, Scotland produces some of the best, and most sought after, natural produce in the world.
From mouth-watering Aberdeen Angus steaks, to world-renowned sea-food such as wild trout, salmon, oysters and langoustines, not to mention our water of life – whisky – the Made in Scotland stamp has become synonymous with taste and quality. Even our cheese gives the French a run for their money!
Scottish producers now grow 3,200 tonnes of raspberries and 21,500 tonnes of strawberries each year. Beef is worth more than £569m per year which is more than fruit, dairy and poultry combined.
Scotland’s 16,000km coastline is home to thousands of species of fish and shellfish. In 2010, exports of fish accounted for over 59% of total exports in Scotland. Exports of fresh Scottish salmon alone in 2011 were valued at £341m. Scottish lobsters are currently used in over 20 Michelin starred restaurants in Tokyo.
1,118 million eggs are produced annually, as well as 1,092 million litres of milk. There are more than two dozen cheese-makers across Scotland, ranging from large Cheddar creameries to smaller artisan and farmhouse cheese-makers. Scottish Cheddar accounts for 70-80% of total output and the main creameries are located at Locherbie, Stranraer and Campbeltown and on the islands of Bute, Arran, Islay, Mull, Gigha and Orkney.
Between January and June 2011 global shipments of Scotch whisky reached £1.8 billion, up 22% compared to the first half of 2010.
Scotland is famous for naturally healthy oat-based products such as porridge and oatcakes - the latter being first produced as far back as the 14th century when Scottish soldiers would carry a sack of oatmeal which they would moisten and heat on a metal plate over a fire when they were hungry. Today, they are commonly enjoyed as an accompaniment to soups, or after dinner with cheese and chutney.
Scotland's national dish, haggis, is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices and salt, traditionally encased in the sheep’s stomach, although nowadays most haggis is prepared in a sausage casing. It is traditionally served with neeps and tatties (turnip and potato), particularly when served as part of a Burns supper. However, haggis is also enjoyed all year round with other accompaniments such as black pudding.
Tablet is a medium-hard sugary sweet made from sugar, condensed milk, butter and vanilla essence, boiled to a soft-ball stage and allowed to crystallise. It dates back to the early 18th century.
And with so many fantastic ingredients on our very doorstep, it’s little wonder that Scotland is also home to some of the most innovative, talented chefs in our world-renowned restaurants, 15 of which are Michelin starred.
Here are just a few of the best known:
The Kitchin, Edinburgh
The Witchery, Edinburgh
Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles, Perthshire
Brian Maule at Chardon d’Or, Glasgow
The Peat Inn, St. Andrew’s
Inverlochy Castle, Highlands
Boath House, Inverness
Knockinaam Lodge, Galloway
Kinloch Lodge, Isle of Skye
The Three Chimneys, Isle of Skye