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Issue 43 - 10 Best Flavours of Scotland

History & Heritage

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Scotland Magazine Issue 43
February 2009


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10 Best Flavours of Scotland

Scotland's produce is amongst the finest in the world, we think you'll agree.

1. Whisky The Glenrothes Malt whisky is Scotland, bottled. And Speyside is universally accepted as the heart of whisky production, having no less than 45 working distilleries. There are five in the small town of Rothes alone, but the one we love is just a little bit special.

Even among single malt connoisseurs, the name Glenrothes at once conjurs images of exceptional quality. Whisky has been made here since 1879 in the same, slow, careful way, delivering a sweet, fruity and elegant spirit.

Further flavours are derived from the maturation in oak casks, which is entirely down to the quality of the wood which the distillery team go to great lengths to source.

Each vintage has its own unique personality, underpinned by the distinctive characteristics of the distillery – ripe fruits, citrus, vanilla and an exquisite spicy finish all encased in the creamiest of textures and with a complex and well-poised balance. 2VENISON Glenlyon Gourmet Foods There’s no shortage of Scottish meat suppliers, but Glenlyon Gourmet Scotland is probably the newest of the bunch.

Launched in August 2008, this online service delivers tasty venison, pork, lamb, beef and game from the heart of Highland Perthshire direct to your door.

All the meat is 100 per cent traceable, coming as it does from a traditional working estate in Aberfeldy, Perthshire.

The pride of the Glenlyon Estate has to be the magnificent herds of red deer that roam the hills between Schiehallion and the River Lyon. Historians claim that venison has been eaten in Scotland for far longer than any other meat. It is lean, fat free, low in cholesterol and high in protein. And by continuing to eat it; we can all rest safely in the knowledge that we are actually helping to protect this majestic species and preserve its beautiful habitat. 3Oatcakes Paterson's Oatcakes Paterson’s have been perfecting the humble oatcake since 1895, when John Paterson would sell all the homebaked oatcakes his wife could produce from a horse drawn van in Rutherglen.

In 1970 the business relocated to a purpose built factory in Livingston and produces a much expanded range of oatcakes, shortbread, biscuits and cookies, but still bakes in the same traditional way – slowly, over an open gas flame.

This superfood, high in fibre, low in fat, has long been enjoyed in Scotland and Paterson’s not only makes one of the most delicious varieties, but they’re ethical too.

The harvesting of palm oil, an ingredient found in one in 10 supermarket products, is bearing untold damage on the indigenous rainforests of South East Asia. As their habitat disappears, orangutans and Sumatran tigers are seriously under threat.

Paterson Arran is the first and only food producer in the UK to have pledged to completely remove palm oil from its production process and to date has converted more than 70 per cent of its product range.

The oatcakes use only healthy olive oil and sunflower oil from sustainable sources, taste amazing and are the lowest fat oatcakes you can buy, which means of course you can smother them with cream cheese and other bad-for-you-things without the tiniest bit of guilt about your waistline (or orangutans). 4SMOKED SALMON Inverawe Smoke House Smoking is one of the oldest way of preserving foods, and few meats respond to the process as well as Scottish salmon.

Inverawe Smokehouse in Argyll, has been producing some of the best smoked salmon since 1980, and even has a Royal Warrant as supplier to Her Majesty The Queen.

Inverawe says that a smoked fish is only as good as the fish you start with, which is why they select the “very, very best” sea reared salmon from small, independent farms.

The fish are brined and prepared, then hung in old style brick smokehouses where the fires are kept going 24 hours a day. Cold smoked salmon is gently cured for up to 48 hours, giving it a faintly fruity flavour and oak-smoked succulence that is a true taste of Scotland. 5BEER Williams Brothers Up until fairy recently a can of Tennent’s was the height of the beer flavour experience in Scotland. But now, reflecting the craft brewing revolution going on around the world, Scottish beer is getting exciting again.

Beer is such of such historical importance in the UK, and without a doubt the Scots were brewing beer long before they were distilling it to make whisky.

Traditionally Scots used heather and wild herbs as well as hops to flavour their beer. Recently archaeologists on Rum discovered a fragment of pottery from 2000BC that contained a fermented beverage made with heather, and there are still some Scottish beers made with this herb.

Fraoch Heather Ale, from Williams Brothers Brewing based in Alloa near Stirling, is brewed using sweet gale and flowering heather, and contains the same aromas you get from tromping through a heather patch in full bloom.

Grozet, a 5% pale ale, is brewed with lager malt, wheat, bog myrtle, hops and meadowsweet then secondary fermented with ripe Scottish gooseberries. Delicious. 6CHEESE Connage Highland Dairy Scotland’s cool climate and geography are particularly suited to cheese making, and Connage Highland Dairy in Inverness is a great example of a traditional, family-owned, fully organic cheese dairy. Their pampered cows feast on a clover-rich diet, giving their milk a full and luscious taste.

Crowdie, a soft cheese also known as gruth in Gaelic, is one of the oldest kinds of Scottish cheeses, dating right back to the Viking occupation. Connage’s award winning Crowdie is made using traditional methods to produce a unique, soft, mousse-like fresh curd cheese. It is light, fresh tasting, and amazingly low in fat.

Crowdie cheese is even said to alleviate the effects of whisky drinking! 7BLACK PUDDING Charles Macleod We love it, but we don’t really want to delve too deeply into how it’s made (a blend of onions, pork fat, oatmeal, seasoning and blood, FYI). As long as animals have been slaughtered to provide food, people have been eating blood sausages.

Stornoway butcher Charles Macleod has been preparing its award-winning black pudding for 50 years, from a closely-guarded recipe. Today it has earned gourmet status above all other black puddings, and rubs shoulders with warm salads and chicken breasts in the trendiest restaurants. 8HAGGIS Macsween Another traditional Scottish meat product with infamous ingredients, but in fact it’s all rather innocuous: lamb, beef, oatmeal, onion, seasoning and spices. In truth it’s not uniquely Scottish at all – the first mention of a haggis-like dish was in ancient Greece, and it is likely the Scots got the idea from the Scandinavians.

Beyond the iconic presentation of haggis at Burns Suppers, this wonderfully versatile dish is eaten throughout the year, making regular appearances on the menus of cafés, bistros and restaurants across the world.

The Macsween family have been making haggis in Edinburgh for more than 50 years, and truly are ‘guardians of Scotland’s national dish.’ 9HEATHER HONEY John Mellis Heather honey is the Rolls Royce of honey, and heather honey from Scotland is in great demand. It has a toffee-like flavour and a texture quite unlike that of regular honey; it never granulates and is ‘thixotropic’ in nature, which means it goes liquid when you stir it, then solidifies (like cornflour).

John Mellis is a beekeeper in Dumfries, whose 350 hives cover 100 square miles of the surrounding countryside.

Heather blooms in the middle of the summer, and many of Scotland’s beekeepers pack up their bees and transport whole hives to purple fields of heather so the hard working bees can gather the precious nectar.

It is, quite literally, a taste of the countryside.

Tel: +44 (0)1848 331 280 10ICE CREAM Mackie’s If there’s anything more wonderful than an ice cream cone while you stroll along the prom, prom, prom on a sunny afternoon – we’d like to know what it is. And you don’t get more Scottish than Mackie’s, ice cream ‘made the way it should be.’ The Traditional version is a creamy smooth ice cream with no added flavour – not even vanilla.

Mackie’s ice cream is made on the fourth generation family farm in Aberdeenshire.

Ateam of 70 people (and 500 Jersey and Holstein Friesian cows) work in the ice cream dairy and on the farm. And you can feel extra good about eating it because it is made with renewable energy! Mackie’s business is powered by three wind turbines.