The Hebridean islands of Islay, Jura, Colonsay, Mull, Iona, Tiree and Coll are all strikingly beautiful. From the rugged peaks of Mull to the sparkling sands of Tiree, each island offers something different. But one thing they all share is a culture of fabulous food. Seafood is hauled fresh from the Atlantic waters and the hills and pastures are farmed for meat and dairy. Making the most of these fabulous resources, the islands are home to thriving producers, who are continuing a long Hebridean tradition of artisan production. Today you’ll find everything from home churned ice cream to small batch gin. Try these island products for a true taste of the Hebrides.
The tiny island of Colonsay produces the most remarkable honey. Colonsay is one of the last places in Europe where the native Black Bee can be found; it is now protected with reserve status by the Scottish Government to prevent cross-breeding. Andrew Abrahams has been keeping bees on Colonsay for over 30 years. The honey he makes has a wonderful aroma. The bees feed on nectar from Colonsay’s wildflowers and the herbs that cover the machair.
Islay is famed for its smoky single malt whiskies. Some of the most popular and unique whiskies in the world are produced here. But whisky isn’t the only drink produced on the island. Islay Ales produces a range of award-winning ales. If you want a beer that’s distinctly Islay, then order a pint of Kilchoman Dark or Kilchoman Pale. Both used malted barley direct from Kilchoman Distillery to give the beer a smoky, peaty taste, just like Islay’s single malts.
On neighbouring Jura, Lussa Gin is hand made in small batches by three local women in Ardlussa. They grow and gather the key botanicals, including lemon thyme, rose petals, bog myrtle, elderflower, Scots pine, honeysuckle, sea lettuce and watermint, while spring water comes from the Lussa Glen. The result is delicious full-bodied floral gin. You can book ahead for a distillery tour.
The texture and delicate flavour of halibut makes it a favourite among fish lovers, but wild Atlantic halibut is firmly on the endangered list. Gigha Halibut are hand-reared on Gigha using a unique land-based farming system that harnesses the clean waters from the Sound of Gigha. Don’t miss the opportunity to try Smoked Gigha Halibut. It’s smoked using whisky-barrel oak chips from the Kilmochan Distillery on neighbouring Islay.
You don’t get much fresher than seafood from Tiree Lobster & Crab in Scarinish. Local man Frazer MacInnes supplies lobster, crab, scallops, oysters and langoustines, all landed by his own fishing boat. Head along to the pop-up stall to pick up a seafood platter, dressed crab, lobster roll and more.
Mull is packed with great tasting produce. So much so that the island has produced the Mull and Iona Food Trail to showcase the food that is locally grown, caught and produced. One of the highlights is Sgriob-ruadh Farm, which produces the famous Isle of Mull Cheddar, as well as Hebridean Blue and Tobermory Truckles. Milk from the farm is also used to make Isle of Mull Ice Cream.
Find out more about Food From Argyll.