Top Produce to Try in Argyll & the Isles
Argyll & the Isles is a world-class food and drink destination, attracting gourmets from across the globe. The land and sea offer up seafood, game and farm-reared meat, while a rich history of resourcefulness has resulted in a feast of traditional delicacies and preserved products, not to mention 14 famous whisky distilleries. And naturally, there’s an array of restaurants and cafés taking full advantage of this delicious Argyll produce. Whether it’s a simple bowl of fresh langoustines at a seafood shack or fine dining at a more formal loch-side eatery, Argyll offers all manner of unforgettable culinary experiences.
With 3,175 miles of coastline and 25 inhabited islands, the sea is part and parcel of life in Argyll. The surrounding Atlantic waters and sea lochs deliver bountiful fresh fish and shellfish. Sea bass, cod, scallops, mussels, lobsters, crabs, oysters, langoustines, razor clams and more are all caught locally and the ‘catch of the day’ features on many menus. No visit to Argyll & the Isles is complete without sampling some of the region’s seafood. The famous Loch Fyne Oyster Bar & Restaurant is a good place to start. Oban is known as ‘Scotland’s Seafood Capital,’ and has a huge choice of seafood restaurants and cafés. The Boathouse on Gigha, Skipness Seafood Cabin on Kintyre and Café Fish on Mull are just some of the great places to enjoy Argyll’s seafood served up with stunning coastal views. If you prefer your seafood smoked, then you’re spoilt for choice. Argyll has a long tradition of fish smoking, which continues today – the region is home to over ten active smokehouses. Inverawe Smokery has a dedicated visitor centre and café and a shop where you can try its award-winning smoked salmon.
Marvelous meat and game
Argyll’s hills and pastures provide some of the best meat and game in Scotland. Kintyre, Islay, Bute and Mull, where livestock feed on lush, herb-filled pastures, are all famed for their delicious beef and lamb. This prime, quality, slow-grown, local meat features on menus throughout Argyll. But it’s not just the lush pastures that create great meat. The Highland Cattle at Fyne Ales Brewery in Cairndow graze on rough hill pastures topped up with the spent grain from the brewery. The resulting meat is incredibly flavoursome.
The Argyll hills are also home to many thousands of deer, so venison is another local delicacy. Don’t miss the chance to try Winston Churchill Venison – stalked by Winston himself in the hills around Dunoon.
You’ve probably heard of (or even tasted!) Argyll’s most famous cheese, Mull of Kintyre Cheddar. It’s made with milk supplied by farms in Kintyre and Gigha, and crafted in the historic Campbeltown Creamery using time-honoured methods. Over on Mull, Isle of Mull Cheddar is made at Sgriob-ruadh Farm. Milk from Sgriob-ruabh also makes Isle of Mull Ice Cream. The flavours are inspired by Mull. How do Tobermory Whisky Cranachan, Tobermory Whisky Marmalade, Island Bakery Dark Chocolate & Ginger Cheesecake and Maggie B’s local tablet with Panna cotta sound?
Sweet treats & perfect preserves
Argyll is home to a vibrant community of artisan producers, creating everything from hand-crafted chocolates to delicious jams and chutneys using age-old recipes. The Scottish Tablet Company, based in Carradale makes some of the best old-fashioned tablet in Scotland. It’s hand-made to a family recipe that has been handed down through generations. Tobermory Chocolates has been making divine chocolates on Mull since 1991. Walk into the shop and you’ll find rack upon rack of these delicious indulgences. Oban Chocolate Co is another Argyll artisan chocolate maker. And if you’re going to try some Argyll cheese you’ll need to pair it with a local chutney. There are a number of Argyll-based companies making preserves, including Puffer Foods on Easedale, Henshelwoods on Bute and Fyne preserves in Cowal.
At some point on your visit to Argyll you might fancy a dram to complement all this fabulous food! You’re in luck. This is a whisky-lover’s heaven, with 14 world-class distilleries dotting what’s known as the ‘whisky coast’. There’s nothing quite like sampling the product in the region’s historic distilleries and most offer guided tours ending with a large dram. Islay is a famed for its peaty malts and has no less than nine distilleries, many of them in stunning locations.
….and a perfect pint
Hand-crafted ales are produced all across Argyll too, and you’ll find these locally-brewed beers in many of the local restaurants and pubs. Colonsay is the smallest island in the world with its own brewery! Colonsay Brewery creates three ales. Try Pig’s Paradise, named after the spot where the island’s pigs feasted on Atlantic wildflowers. Other great Argyll beers include Fyne Ales, Bute Brew Co. and Oban Bay Brewery.
As well as Argyll’s many eateries, the region’s farmers’ markets are a great way to sample the local produce and to meet the producers. Food festivals are also held throughout the region. Expect taste sensations served with a side order of toe-tapping live music and a big dollop of Highland hospitality.