Food and drink in the Outer Hebrides
The islands have been a place of crofting and fishing for 100s of years. Food would come largely from the fertile land alongside the machair where crops could be grown and sheep could graze. Fish and shellfish is aplenty and you will be hard pushed to find any that compares elsewhere.
Today, both top-class restaurant chefs and home-taught enthusiasts will seek your approval of both traditional food and drink, together with modern variations of the recipes. There’s a wide range of traditional and contemporary places to find food and drink on the islands. Look out for hotels, restaurants, tiny tea-shops, community centre cafes and takeaways. Recently, Outer Hebrides Tourism launched the Eat Drink
We have local artisan beers and whisky is already in production in one of our newest distilleries. Many people are already familiar with the fantastic Harris Gin and it is well worth a trip to the distillery in Harris to purchase a bottle.
Outer Hebrides Tourism has recently produced a leaflet covering the Eat Drink Hebrides Trail. This is the official food and drink trail of the Outer Hebrides and will provide you with some great information on places to dine and taste local dishes. Download the Eat Drink Hebrides Leaflet here to plan your dining, a copy will also be placed in your ticket wallet.
Stornoway Black Pudding
Protected by similar legislation to Champagne and made only in Stornoway, this is one of the most sought after black puddings. This testament to the butchers’ craft is exported throughout the world. If you’re a fan of black pudding, you really should sample the Stornoway variety.
Often served in Outer Hebrides restaurants with chicken or scallops and currently popular as a filling for mille-feuilles.
The cool waters that surrounded the Hebrides support both fish and shellfish of the finest quality. Although there is great demand from outside food and drink markets, especially for prawns (langoustines) and scallops, you will find plenty of sea food on local menus. In addition to catches from the wild, Hebridean salmon and scallops are also farmed here.
Kindly methods of catch, such as creels for prawns and hand-diving for scallops, is said to cause much less distress than trawling and result in better flavours.
There are fish smokers in the Uists and Stornoway, providing freshly smoked kippers, scallops, salmon and others.
The first sea-salt refiner in Scotland (Hebridean Sea Salt) is located on the Isle of Lewis and is available in island deli’s and supermarkets. Food and drink is taken as seriously here as in any other part of the country.
Home-baking is popular throughout the islands and you’ll find plenty of variety on offer in tea-shops and cafes. You’ll see traditional cakes, but also wicked temptations like tray bakes and luxury cup cakes that embed popular chocolate products within.
Look out for community enterprises as you travel, such as Butha an Rubha (on the road to Tiumpan Head from Stornoway), Claddach Kirkibost on the west coast road around North Uist and others. Often these are in converted ex-school buildings sometimes with cafes run by local residents who bake at home.
One of Scotland’s most famous sweets is tablet. This is somewhat like dairy fudge but not so chewy. The variety made at the Hebridean Toffee Company on the Isle of Barra is especially worthy of recommendation.
The Hebridean Brewing Company, based in Stornoway, manufactures several award winning ale beers and you’ll find them on sale throughout the islands.
Currently the only legal distillery producing in the Outer Hebrides, Abhainn Dearg is at Uig on Lewis, next to the Red River, from which is gets its name. Abhainn = River, Dearg = Red. The recipe is 400 years old, but the distillery only opened in 2008, so the malt whisky produced is still quite young.
This is a whisky that is entirely from the island, the water coming from the adjacent river and the barley from close by the distillery and from local farms. Even the bottling is done by hand!