Scotland’s vast rolling hills and crystal-clear waters are beautiful to explore. But it’s here that some of the best produce in the world is also made. Rich, ripe raspberries, fresh seafood, home-grown veggies and tender steaks. Not forgetting our award-winning single malt scotch whisky. There’s plenty of tasty foods and exceptional drinks to try in Scotland.
Scotland’s national foods
From oats to meat pies and creamy cheddar cheese, Scotland makes a whole menu of exceptional ingredients and meals. Here’s some of the best national foods you can’t miss.
When you think of Scotland, you likely think of haggis. Scotland’s national dish (known as ‘taigeis‘ in Scottish Gaelic) is a savoury meat pudding made from the liver, heart and lungs of a sheep. It’s crumby, oaty and has a good punch of peppery spice. The traditional way to eat haggis is with mashed potatoes and turnips (neeps and tatties) and whisky sauce – which also happens to be the national drink of Scotland.
Neeps and Tatties
Neeps (mashed potatoes) and tatties (mashed turnips) are a classic Scottish side dish. Heaps of butter, and salt and pepper make it seriously rich and comforting. Add to haggis to warm up a winter’s evening or for a celebratory Burns Night supper.
If you’re going for a 3 course meal, you’ll want to start with this hearty Scottish soup. Named after the town of Cullen, it’s a local speciality but you’ll find it across Scotland. The chowder is made with smoked haddock, potato and onion, perfect for eating with warm, buttered bread.
Another winter warmer, Cock-a-leekie is a national soup that’s been a Scottish classic since the 16th century. You’ll typically find it made with chicken, leeks and barley or rice but each place has its own way of making it.
Aberdeen Angus Beef
The Aberdeen Angus cattle are a prized breed and are what make Scottish beef some of the best in the world. It’s all down to the distribution of fat which creates an exceptional marbled steak with tender texture and juicy flavour. Whilst you can now get Angus beef across the UK, there’s nothing like tucking into a steak in Scotland.
Scottish Smoked Salmon
Smoked salmon is made across the world. But Scottish smoked salmon is something different. The local fish is smoked over local peat and often chips from old whisky barrels to create its recognisable flavour. This process makes it tender and buttery with an orange-pink colour. Buy it in Scotland to serve at home or try it with Scottish oatcakes topped with cream cheese.
Cranachan is the national dessert of Scotland and it’s one you won’t want to miss. Fresh raspberries, cream, oats and honey are mixed with scotch whisky to create a creamy layered pudding. It was originally served to celebrate the harvest but it’s not a year-round dish that’s popular on special occasions. Try it with our Cranachan inspired raspberry cocktail.
You can’t visit Scotland without trying (and bringing home) authentic Scottish-made shortbread. The buttery, crumbly biscuit is synonymous with Scotland thanks to centuries of simple family recipes. Head to a local cafe or pick up a box to nibble with freshly brewed tea.
Scotland’s national drinks
Don’t forget to sample some of Scotland’s best beverages. From national drinks to independent makers there’s plenty to quench your thirst.
Whisky and Scotland have been associated with each other for centuries. Scottish whisky, known as Scotch, can only be made in Scotland and must be matured in oak casks for at least three years. The scotch making process is an artform and is what gives the spirit a recognisably smooth, spiced flavour.
There are five whisky regions in Scotland, with more than 100 distilleries producing different types of whisky. Here in Speyside, our founder George Smith was the first licensed distiller to make whisky. And with its lush hillsides and salmon-rich clear waters, it’s one of the most conducive areas for producing single malt scotch. Pop along to visit The Glenlivet distillery for a whisky tasting experience.
Slightly less well-known than scotch is Scotland’s national liqueur. The aged whisky liqueur blends rare Scottish heather honey with herbs and spices to create a complex drink that can be drunk over ice or mixed into whisky cocktails. Try it with The Glenlivet 15 Year Old to make a Rusty Nail, a classic Scottish cocktail served on the rocks.
This Scottish original cocktail is a must for whisky lovers. Scotch and ginger wine make a fiery, spiced flavour that’s super simple and delicious to drink. You’ll find it served in most Scottish bars or make it at home to have hot or cold.
Irn Bru has coined the nickname ‘Scotland’s other national drink’ and is loved across the country. The bright orange fizzy beverage has a unique taste with a secret recipe only known by a few people.
Aside from whisky, Scots also brew an excellent selection of ales. Known as ‘scotch ale’, these stronger drinks have a rich, caramelly flavour made with a low level of hops and sweet malt. Sample one in a local pub or head to a Scottish brewery to taste a few.
Whilst being famous for whisky, Scotland is also renowned for its gin distilleries and is responsible for 70% of the UK’s overall gin production. As well as recognisable names, there’s plenty of independent makers across the country.
Whilst enjoying your foodie experience in Scotland, don’t miss a trip to Speyside. The whisky-making region has some of the best produce in the country and there’s plenty to see. Discover the best things to do in Speyside.