Food miles? Your shellfish was gathered from that stretch of water, right there. Your fish was caught by that boat, berthed in the local harbour, or maybe, by fly, from this river. Your venison was from just over that hill, and the veg? The eggs? Your hotelier will be on first name terms with the suppliers. They’re likely to be neighbours.
You’ve breathed our clean air, walked in our wilderness, and swum in our cold, clear waters. That’s where our produce comes from. There’s an honesty to its freshness and its quality that we are – quite justifiably – immensely proud of. Come, enjoy, savour. Try your hand at making your own or buy some to take home. Then you’ll be able to enjoy a taste of the far north of Scotland, wherever you are.
The Spirit of the North
Dive into the true spirit of Caithness and Sutherland by sampling the whisky, gin and beer that comes from our land. Few places understand whisky better than the Carnegie Whisky Cellars in Dornoch – browse their ‘sweetie shop’ selection of malts, gins and other collectable, drinkable spirits, or try before you buy with one of their tutored tastings. Delicious and informative – what’s not to love?
At Bin Ends in Wick and Thurso you’ll be met by staff with over 20 years of experience – essential, if you’re going to be able to make the right choice from their product range of over 150 blended and malt whiskies, 20 beers, and 300 ports and wines.
And if you fancy getting the low-down on the craftsmanship that goes into producing some of our nation’s best-loved drinks, take a tour. Dunnet Bay Distillers on the north coast, famous for their Rock Rose Gin and Holy Grass Vodka offer these, as do the newer 8 Doors Distillery in John O’Groats, and Ice and Fire in the Caithness Flow Country. Each makes for a fascinating few hours.
If you fancy sampling as you tour, Above and Beyond offer a bespoke six-hour ‘Taste and Tipple Tour’ for the far north of scotland, including transport and lunch. Ideal!
Invest in a bottle or two and be transported straight back north, every time you pour yourself a wee drink.
Make Your Own
While tasting top quality produce can bring the most exquisite pleasure, there’s nothing more satisfying than learning how to make it yourself. Generous producers across Caithness and Sutherland are willing to pass on their skills, which makes for a perfect foodie experience.
CC Chocolatier will share the secrets of tempering, shaping, and flavouring chocolate at their wonderful workshops near Wick - combine the workshop with a sumptuous afternoon tea.
Learn about blending the perfect mix of botanicals, and about the head, hearts, and tails of a batch of gin, as you distil your own bespoke gin at a Distilling Experience at Ice and Fire Distillery. There’s even an opportunity to forage for your own botanicals in the Strath of Latheronwheel. I can’t think of a better pre-wedding experience – imaging drinking your own unique gin on your wedding day! Book as a couple; hens and stags optional.
The Ultimate in Luxury
Links House at Royal Dornoch is not just for golfers. And that’s a fact. It’s a haven for foodies in the far north, for those who appreciate the finer side of dining, and for those who love their palate to be surprised and delighted with every bite.
In-house restaurant Mara offers arguably the finest dining experience in the Highlands. Their seven-course tasting menu offers ‘gifts from Scotland’s waters, fields, forests and skies, presented with minimal interruption’, each course served – should you choose – with paired wines from their extensive cellars.
You’ll be tempted to stay over, so just do. The breakfasts are to die for.
Street Food, North Style
Not every meal has to be a sit-down affair with starched linen, heavy silverware, and soft lighting. Sometimes the most delicious bites are those eaten al-fresco, devoured fresh from the vendor in the Scottish Highlands. Here’s our selection of our favourite street-food across Caithness and Sutherland – let us know who we’ve missed out!
The Highland Larder on the beachfront at Dornoch serves up the most remarkable local seafood, fresh from the kiosk, to be enjoyed at the chunky tables and chairs, or on the beach. Perfection.
Winners of Best Quick Bite in 2022, Durness’s Cheese ‘N’ Toasted, serve exactly what their name suggests. Enjoy hearty, delicious, artisan cheese toasties (gluten free options too!) from their sky-blue mobile unit near Smoo Cave on the north coast. Unmissable!
Taco East bring Tex Mex to locations across Thurso fand Wick from their wooden trailer. If Burritos, Quesadillas and Loaded Nachos are your thing, track them down – and pre-order, or they might sell out before you get there!
If you’re looking for fresh ‘Shellfish-to-go’, head for Dunbeath Harbour and Tasty Toes. Dressed crab and crab pate, lobster, langoustines (plus non-shellfish filled rolls for non-fish fans) are available from this husband and wife team; he catches it, she cooks and sells it. Food miles? Zero.
And there’s nothing more portable than a pie, so we must recommend Lochinver Larder’s Pies. Meet, fish, vegetable, and sweet, they are worth making a special trip for. If you can’t make it in person, they offer mail order too.