Not a member?
Register and login now.

Issue 64 - The Pride of Scotland

Scotland Magazine Issue 64
August 2012

 

This article is 5 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

Copyright Scotland Magazine © 1999-2017. All rights reserved. To use or reproduce part or all of this article please contact us for details of how you can do so legally.

The Pride of Scotland

When you consider Scotland's greatest products and just what it is that makes them so special, a pattern begins to emerge. Whether it's gourmet food, drink, fabric, art, music or literature, Scotland's best exports are made so by the passion of the people behind them. Combine this with Scotland's inspiring landscape, its unique history and the techniques passed down through generations, you get world class products. None of these products would be the same coming from anywhere else... It's the cool climate of Scotland that grows the heather that feeds the bees, its rich coastal waters that produce the best langoustine. Okay, so if you want the best coconuts or sun-dried tomatoes then perhaps this isn't the place; but, if you want handcrafted whisky made from Scottish barley smoked over a fire fuelled by 2000 year old peat; or a tweed jacket woven in a Harris croft by a grandmother who was then taught how to weave by her grandmother, quite frankly there's nowhere better

Heather honey
If you have visited the Highlands in July and August, you cannot fail to have noticed great swathes of hillside purple with heather. During the summer, beekeepers transport their hives to these hills so that the bees can gorge themselves on the nectar of Scotland’s most iconic flower. The result is a very distinctive honey with a dark butterscotch colour and a unique toasted toffee flavour, with a texture that’s thick and creamy. Heather honey literally is a taste of the Highlands, and what’s more it is rich in antioxidants and is considered to have healing properties.
Try: Heather Hills Farm www.heather-hills.com Tel: +44 (0)1250 886 252

Whisky
No other drink defines Scotland quite like whisky. Loved by connoisseurs across the world, Scotland’s single malt whiskies have achieved luxury status; visit any one of Scotland’s traditional distilleries and it is easy to understand why. From steaming mash tuns to towering copper stills and barrels sleeping in damp, ancient warehouses, whisky-making is a truly sensory experience. Unchanged for hundreds of years, and loved by the generations of people who make and by the people who drink it; this is what makes it truly unique.
Try: The Glenrothes www.theglenrothes.com Tel: +44 (0) 1340 872 300

Seafood
Scottish seafood has become the envy of Europe, with more than 65 different species of fish and shellfish reaped from the rich coastal waters each year, including cod, mackerel, prawns, lobster, mussels, oysters, crab and scallops. Scotland lands the largest share of langoustine in the world. There are some 5,000 commercial fishermen and more than 2,000 vessels in the Scottish fishing fleet, and inland, salmon and trout farming are now major industries. Each dish is a testament to a country that has been shaped by its fishing heritage, where fishing is not just a job but a way of life for Scotland’s coastal communities.
Try: CFayre www.cfayre.co.uk Tel: +44 (0)1475 672 102

Tartan
Ever since the wearing of tartan was proscribed by law following the Jacobite uprising, this simple cloth has become a symbol of patriotism used by Scots and their descendants around the world.The first tartans were simple everyday fabrics, woven with just two or three colours (usually brown) in a pattern of interlocking stripes, the cloth identifiable to a particular region because of the local dyes. Today there are more than 7,000 unique tartans on record in myriad colours. And though clan tartans didn’t develop until the beginning of the 19th century, a tartan kilt has become a way of proudly identifying with a particular family, clan or regiment – and with Scotland, above all.
Try: Kinloch Anderson www.kinlochanderson.com Tel: +44 (0)131 555 1390

Haggis
Burns’ great chieftan o’ the pudding-race is about as quintessentially Scottish as it is possible to get. This savoury dish begins with the heart, liver and lungs of a sheep (charmingly known as the ‘pluck’), then it is minced with onion, oatmeal, suet and spices and encased in the animal’s stomach before simmering for three hours. If you find this rather indigestible, you may wish to join those who prefer to imagine a small Scottish mammal with legs on one side longer than those on the other, so that it can run around the steep hills of the Highlands without falling over.
Try: Cockburns Haggis www.scottishgourmetfood.co.uk Tel: +44 (0)1667 451 051

Tweed
Not to be confused with tartan, tweed is a high quality, 100 per cent wool fabric woven into many different coloured patterns (generally plaid, twill, or herringbone). Whereas tartans are generally used for kilts, the durable and moisture-resistant nature of tweed make it especially suitable for outwear: suits, skirts and jackets in particular. This is a fabric of exceptional quality and provenance, once woven in the homes of local crofters for their families – now gracing the cutting tables of the best designers and tailors around the world. And the best thing about tweed is that it never, ever goes out of style.
Try: Harris Tweed www.harristweed.org Tel: +44 (0)1851 702 269

Shortbread
This most famous of Scottish biscuits is actually a descendent of the medieval shortcake, a bread-like cake which was pricked all over with a fork to ensure an even rise (a technique called ‘docking’ which has been passed down to shortbread, purely for aesthetics). The ‘shortness’ of shortbread refers to the prodigious use of butter which gives it a crumbly or ‘short’ texture. Classic shortbread is made from only flour, butter and sugar. But it is the quality of these ingredients and a lightness of touch that make Scottish shortbread so decidedly delicious.
Try: Dean’s www.deans.co.uk Tel: +44 (0)1466 792 086

Venison
Apart from being characteristically Scottish, could venison be the perfect meat? It is incredibly lean, high in iron, low in cholesterol and not to mention delicious, and it couldn’t be any more free-range… This delectable meat ticks all the boxes when it comes to food ethics: it is highly sustainable, as populations of wild herds must be strictly controlled; and the stalking this provides brings tourism and employment to rural areas. It’s a shame people can be squeamish about eating deer, when in reality the stalkers and ghillies responsible for the herds are incredibly humane: they have huge respect for the animals and the land that supports them.
Try: The Blackface Meat Company www.blackface.co.uk Tel: +44 (0)1387 730 326

Oats
Scotland’s cool climate and short, wet growing season lends itself perfectly to the cultivation of the oat, where it has grown since medieval times. Once upon a time every croft had a porridge drawer (out of which cold, thick slices of porridge would be cut for lunch, or fried up for breakfast). Samuel Johnson may have been a bit short-sighted when he defined oats as 'a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.' From porridge to skirlie, oatcakes, cranachan and haggis, the humble oat has numerous health benefits and has been one of Scotland’s most versatile products for generations.
Try: Hamlyns Oats www.hamlynsoats.co.uk Tel: +44 (0)1261 843 330