5 top food and drink trails in Scotland

You won't find out why Scotland is one of the best countries in the world for fresh produce just by getting your weekly shop. Setting off on one of Scotland's food trails and sampling it at the source is by far the most rewarding.

Published 21st Apr 2015
Updated 21 st Sep 2023
Many people are happy enough just to nip down to their local 24-hour supermarket to pick up the necessities but there are other ways to get a taste for fresh Scottish produce that are far more rewarding, believe me.

In most cases, it takes as little effort as jumping in the car and driving a little further than the nearby Tesco (other supermarkets are available). While you're at it, why not make a weekend of it?

Seafood Trail

As if there was ever any doubt, Scotland's west coast really is where the seafood connoisseur should tie up for a few days.

Gracing the plates of restaurants around the world, Scotland's fruits de mer are sought after by Michelin star chefs and those that just think they are in the comfort of their own kitchens.

The Seafood Trail is a collection of eight restaurants from Oban to the Kintyre peninsula, each one offering the best of the fresh catch landed daily up and down the coast.

Malt Whisky Trail

Picture: PA

Picture: PA

Perhaps the most well-trodden trail in Scotland is the Malt Whisky Trail through Speyside.

With the greatest concentration of distilleries in the world dotting the landscapes here, this whisky-producing region is the engine room of the Scotch industry.

The trail itself meanders past some of the world's most distinguished working distilleries, including Glenfiddich and The Glenlivet, where you can get a behind the scenes look at the distillation process from grain to glass.

The Speyside Cooperage, one of the last remaining cooperages in the world, is a wonder in itself. From the gallery, you can watch the highly-skilled men toiling below in a cacophony of hammer blows on wood.

Cheese Trail

Forget Camembert and Brie imported from France. Scottish cheeses like Crowdie, Dunsyre Blue, Dunlop and Isle of Mull cheddar should be on your radar for your next dinner party (top tip: try a ripe Scottish blue cheese on oatcakes paired with a smoky single malt like Lagavulin 16 Year Old).

Alternatively, pick up some straight from the source and see it being made by hand at creameries the length and breadth of the country.

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Chocolate Trail

Although there's no official route to follow, there is plenty to see when you put your head around the door of Scottish chocolate workshops.

There are 78 artisan chocolatiers in Scotland but unfortunately not all are open to the public.

Cocoa beans are obviously not grown in the mild climbs of Scotland but the chocolate itself is tempered by hand using local dairy, and other ingredients like whisky, gin, herbs and berries all sourced from around Scotland.

Real Ale Trail

Valhalla brewery. Picture: Wikimedia

Valhalla brewery. Picture: Wikimedia

As well as our national drink, Scotland has a long history of brewing. As well as historic breweries, the Real Ale Trail allows you to get to grips with Scotland's burgeoning number of independent craft brewers.

If anything, it gives you the perfect opportunity to sample some tasty new brews; from the smallest brewery in the world on Colonsay to Valhalla Brewery in Shetland, the most northerly in the UK. Remember to drink responsibly and within the new Scottish drink driving laws, obviously.

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