The festive season is the perfect excuse to celebrate Argyll’s fabulous food and drink. Argyll offers everything from magnificent meat to succulent smoked fish, small batch gin to artisan chocolates. This Christmas, give the supermarket a miss, champion the region’s chocolatiers, rare breed meat farmers, brewers, distillers and cheese-makers and feast on an array of Argyll goodies. Here’s the Argyll produce that should be on your Christmas table.
Start the Christmas feasting in style with Argyll smoked fish. Argyll has over ten smokehouses producing succulent smoked salmon, trout, mussels and more. Try Skipness Smokehouse, Luss Smokehouse, Inverawe Smokehouse, The Tobermory Fish Co, Ritchie’s of Rothesay, Loch Fyne Oyster Bar Murray Smoked Products and Kintyre Smokehouse. Or for something completely different, why not give Smoked Gigha Halibut a go? Using whisky-barrel oak chips from the Kilmochan Distillery on neighbouring Islay, the fish is smoked using a centuries-old method.
Why stick to turkey when you have all this marvelous local meat on offer? Argyll’s hills and pastures provide some of the tastiest meat and game in Scotland. Kintyre, Islay, Bute and Mull are all famed for their beef and lamb. At Shellfield Farm, lambs graze on the Loch Riddon salt marshes resulting in a unique taste. The Highland Cattle at Fyne Ales Brewery in Cairndow graze on rough hill pastures topped up with the spent grain from the brewery. Or how about some venison? Winston Churchill Venison is stalked by Winston himself in the hills around Dunoon.
Add a local touch to your festive cheeseboard with some Argyll cheeses. One of Argyll’s most famous cheeses, Mull of Kintyre Cheddar, is made with milk supplied by farms in Kintyre and Gigha, and crafted in the historic Campbeltown Creamery. Over on Mull, Isle of Mull Cheddar, Hebridean Blue and Tobermory Truckles are made at Sgriob-ruadh Farm.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a box of chocolates to share with friends and family, and there are plenty to choose from in Argyll. The Oban Chocolate Company makes sublime chocolates. On Mull, Tobermory Chocolates makes artisan chocolates using the finest ingredients. CocoaMo chocolates are handmade in Helensburgh. Try the Chocolate bauble this Christmas. For those with an even sweeter tooth, nothing hits the spot like Scottish tablet. Try An Gleann Tablet on Islay and the Scottish Tablet Company in Kintyre. Ice cream, meanwhile, is made by Wee Isle Dairy on Gigha and Isle of Mull Ice Cream is made on Mull.
Toast the festive season with an Argyll whisky. The region is known as the ‘whisky coast’, with fifteen world-class distilleries dotting the coastline. The different areas within Argyll each produce whiskies with a distinctive character. Campbeltown whisky is defined by a smokiness with a touch of salt, Islay is famed for its peaty drams, Oban has a misty, briny character while Tobermory produces two very different malts.
Whisky isn’t the only drink produced in Argyll; there are craft gin distilleries too. Argyll’s gins are packed with locally foraged botanicals, making them the perfect pre-Christmas dinner drink. Bruichladdich’s The Botanist is the original Argyll gin, made on the island of Islay. Colonsay has inspired two gins. Colonsay Gin and Wild Island Gin. Kintyre Gin is family affair, made by the Macalister Halls at Torrisdale Castle Estate in Kintyre. Lussa Gin is made by hand in small batches in Ardlussa at the north end of the island of Jura. There’s also Tyree Gin from Tiree and Whitetail Gin from Mull.
There’s a fantastic variety of beer and ale being produced by craft breweries across Argyll and they should definitely be on your festive drinks list. Fyne Ales Brewery sits at the head of Loch Fyne in Cowal. Fyne Ales’ seasonal offering is Holly Daze, an amber ale with a malty, fruit aroma. Islay Ales’ festive brew is Kildalton Ale, a dark beer with hints of ginger and cinnamon. Check out Colonsay Ales, Oban Bay Brewery and Bute Brew Co too.
You can buy online from many of these producers and they’ll deliver directly to your door. You could also check out the Christmas markets taking place across Argyll. Meet the producers and buy their produce.