Wining and Dining in Scotland

Scotland enjoys a worldwide reputation for the quality of its produce. As a result the country's cooks and chefs have developed their skills to match the fine ingredients they use in preparing some of the finest dishes imaginable. Scotch beef and lamb, freshly caught salmon, trout and lobster. Add locally reared grouse, pheasant and venison and you have the basis for a range of mouthwatering meals to rival any cuisine in the world.

The past two decades have seen an enormous change in the eating out habits of the Scottish population. In the past the only time the average man in the street would stray away from his own household dining table would be to partake of the purvey at family weddings, christenings and funerals. Dining out was left strictly to the upper and middle classes.

Nowadays things have really changed. Not only has eating out become a regular habit for the masses, but also the quality and variety of restaurants for them to visit have improved and developed beyond the most avid 'foody's' wildest dreams.

It is not only the quality of restaurants specialising in Scottish fare that have increased. Some of the finest French, Italian, Chinese, Thai and Indian restaurants in Britain can be found in Scotland. Every city and town can offer the visitor something to tempt their taste buds. We are delighted to present a sample throughout these pages. Specific details of eating establishments can be found within each region's wining and dining section or alternatively by clicking onto one of the regions listed below.



Although the Scots are credited with 'discovering' whisky it would be fairer to say that they should certainly take the credit, not so much for its discovery, but for its development. The art of distilling is accepted to have started in Asia around 800 BC. Whereas the first documented record of distilling in Scotland was not until 1494.

The word whisky is derived from the Gaelic 'uisge beatha' or the water of life. Throughout the centuries it has been referred to in a number of ways, from aqua vitae to the nippy sweetie.

The consumption of whisky really grew in 1760 when an exorbitant tax was placed on claret putting it outwith the reach of most tipplers. At this time the majority of whisky production was illicit with many malt distillers operating from the privacy of the owners home or a quiet bothy hidden in a nearby glen.

Like all good things in life the taxman had to have his say, and his share. As a result of his interest whisky production went even further underground. Parliament legalised whisky distilling in 1823 and today it is Scotland's leading export.

It is quite remarkable just how big a money-spinner it has become. Annual export earnings from Scotch is now running at an astonishing £2.3 billion pounds. This equates to sales of 30 bottles, and revenue of £74, every second of every day. The largest market for Scotch is America. Recent consumption figures show that that an amazing $428 million dollars per annum is spent on the golden nectar.

Grain whisky makes up around seventy percent of the normal bottle of blended whisky, but each blends different flavour comes from the malt whisky that is added to the grain in different quantities. As a rule of thumb, the more expensive the brand of blended whisky you buy, the better the malts that have been used in its blending.

Although blended whiskies dominate the market, most consumers would agree that malts are more fun. There are many, many single malts and they all have their own distinctive taste. They vary enormously depending on the water, peat and oak barrels used it the distilling and maturing process.

There are four distinct malt groups: Highland, Lowland, Islay and Campbletown with the majority falling into the Highland category and being produced largely on Speyside.

As a visit to Scotland would be incomplete without a visit to a distillery  we are happy to recommend the following establishments who will be delighted to show you round and explain the distilling process in greater detail - and give you a free dram into the bargain.

-click here to view Top 20 distilleries in Scotland

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