Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight celebrates the stories of local brands

Scotland Food & Drink has launched its annual celebration of the sector, Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, which this year will celebrate Scotland’s ‘Stories to Savour’ from across the country.

Now in its 13th year, Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight 2022 takes place from Friday 2nd to Friday 16th September. The campaign will shine a spotlight on the nation’s best food and drink producers, from the passionate chefs using local ingredients and the national retailers promoting the best of Scottish produce, to local shops, markets, and cafés that are putting Scottish food and drink front and centre.

Despite a particularly turbulent couple of years, Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight 2022 is a look forward to the exciting opportunities that lie ahead within the industry and a celebration of the people in it.

John Davidson, Interim Chief Executive and Strategy Director at Scotland Food & Drink, said: “Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight is an incredible opportunity to bring producers and consumers together to highlight the stories which make Scottish produce renowned around the globe.

“Our industry has shown tremendous resilience as it navigated the pandemic and Brexit, and now rising costs in the supply chain. Supporting local producers by celebrating their innovative products and brand stories is so important and we continue to see a real pride in what is being reared, grown, and manufactured on our doorstep.”

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands Mairi Gougeon said: “Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the outstanding produce we have here in Scotland. It is also a great platform to celebrate the stories behind the hard work, determination and innovation.

“We recognise that the cost of living crisis is making this an extremely challenging time for businesses and consumers alike. I hope that everyone who is able to do so gets behind the aims of the Fortnight and continues to support our vital food and drink sector.”

Scotland Food & Drink toasted the start of Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight at Arbikie Distillery. Since being established in 2013, Arbikie has built a strong reputation for producing great tasting, award winning gin while its whisky reaches the right age.

Iain Stirling, Co-owner of Arbikie Distillery said: “For over four centuries our family have been farming, four generations on the east coast of Angus which is now home to Arbikie Distillery. Our story is one based on heritage, with an innovative twist and a sustainable legacy. Using only ingredients grown on our farms gives us our field-to-bottle ethos and by harnessing our creativity and collaborating with academia, we have created the world’s first climate-positive gin and vodka.

“Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight provides us with a great opportunity to tell our sustainable story and celebrate Scottish provenance and we are delighted to get involved once again this year.”

Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight takes place from Friday 2nd to Friday 16th September, and anybody can get involved by joining the celebrations on social media using #StoriestoSavour.

Fallachan Dining at Home with Craig Grozier

If you're looking for the perfect Tuesday night dinner then look no further! Join Craig Grozier of Fallachan Dining as he takes us through creating the perfect Scottish twist on a delicious Spanish potato tortilla, with Scottish smoked haddock & dulse

This cook-a-long will take place on Craig's (@craiggrozier) Instagram LIVE at 5pm on Tuesday 8th September. You'll find him at @craiggrozier.  

You'll need...


  • Smoked Haddock
  • Free Range Eggs
  • Mara Dulse
  • Leeks
  • Fennel
  • Lemon thyme
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Rooster potatoes
  • Salt and black pepper



  • Non stick frying pan
  • Heat proof spatula
  • Concave pan lid
  • Bowl with lid or plate to cover

NFU Mutual and Scotland Food & Drink announces Inspirational Winner

After a tough selection process, the overall winner of the Inspirational Young Person Award 2019 has been announced.

Designed to recognise the incredible talent and dedication being shown by Scotland’s young people within the food and drink sector, the NFU Mutual and Scotland Food & Drink award has, over recent weeks, selected the four most worthy entrants who are now being recognised for their dedication and contribution to the food and drink industry.

Having announced the runner-up, in addition to two highly commended prizes, earlier in the Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, the judges are now delighted to announce that Angus Forbes of Forbes Farm Fresh has been chosen as the overall winner.

Over the last decade, Angus, who is known in the community as Gus, turned a small scale meat business into a business renowned for selling quality locally produced beef, pork and lamb whilst also adding a massively successful outside catering business, specialising in hogg roasts. This developed Forbes Farm Fresh into the go to catering business for weddings, birthdays and community events in the local areas.

Angus found a market for quality, locally sourced meat delivered right to the customer’s door. With a focus on ensuring tailored customer satisfaction by providing bespoke orders to each individual, Angus butchers and packages the produce himself.

Angus supports both Quality Meat Scotland and NFU Scotland in their drive for Scottish meat and he regularly provides meat from his business to events promoting the quality of Scottish farming to the public. During these events Angus takes time to talk about where and how the meat is produced and provide butchery demonstrations.  In addition to presenting, he has inspired many young people through holding positions as part of the Young Farms Club, helping individuals pursue their own business ideas within the sector.

Angus Forbes, said:

“Firstly, thank you to NFU Mutual along with Scotland Food & Drink for this award. As much as I would like to take all the credit, the business wouldn’t be in the position it is today without the help of all the Forbes clan. We’re quite literally the definition of a family run business. I may be at forefront but my family, especially my mother and father, put in an endless amount of hours.

At Forbes Farm Fresh, we take great pride in providing our customers with the knowledge of what they are buying with complete traceability and the highest standards of animal welfare. It’s not every day that the farmer who feeds the livestock also delivers the final product to your door.


 I was incredible lucky to be given the opportunity by my parents to manage the butchery after a very unsuccessful attempt at University. Since then I am now fully qualified in butchery retail and food hygiene & safety, thanks to an apprenticeship with Scottish Meat Training.

Challenges always arise though whether it’s the growing trend of meat free diets or climate change. I do believe we are already tackling these problems with our business model and in the future will continue to do so.”

Martin Malone, Regional Manager Northern Ireland and Scotland with NFU mutual, said:

“This year saw more quality entries demonstrating diversity, excellence and customers focus. There are so many dedicated, hard-working and inspiring young people currently working in the food and drink industry and NFU Mutual is delighted to work closely with so many fantastic food and drink businesses across the sector.

I would like to congratulate Angus on his tremendous work ethic and business savvy. Taking a business and generating a diverse offering with high levels of promotion and customer service, really stood out for the judges and set him apart as the 2019 winner. His work and success in promoting quality products is a testament to the calibre of produce we have across Scotland.”

James Withers, Chief Executive at Scotland Food & Drink, said:

“Our farming, food and drink industry is full of talented youngsters who are going to be driving our sector forward in the coming years.

“Gus is a great example of this talent. He has shown how you can embrace innovation to unlock new opportunities. Livestock production in Scotland is a tough business but Gus has clearly seen the potential to embrace quality and drive a direct connection between the farm and customers. Not only does that help secure a future for his own business but it helps Scotland’s ongoing effort to strengthen our food and drink brand.”


About the Award

 The NFU Mutual and Scotland Food & Drink Inspirational Young Person Award 2019 entries comprised online submissions of up to 750 words from individuals between the ages of 16 and 26 who own, work, or study within a food and drink related business, organisation or institution. The winners each receive prize money.

For further information please contact the press team:

Jade Devlin | 01789 455165 |

Growing Opportunities in Public Food for Scottish Suppliers

This Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, industry bodies are coming together to highlight the opportunities available to local food businesses in supplying Scotland’s public sector.

Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, which takes place from 31 August to 15 September, is this year celebrating 10 years of showcasing and supporting the companies, brands and people who are championing our country’s larder, enabling them to take advantage of the growing consumer demand for Scottish food and drink.

Every year, the public sector in Scotland spends almost £150 million on food and drink. Over a third of local authority money spent on Scotland Excel frameworks, which covers areas such as school meals, is now spent on food that has been produced or manufactured in Scotland – a figure that has grown by more than half since 2015. With a growing opportunity for Scotland’s producers, there has never been a better time for Scottish food businesses to get involved in supplying public foodservice.

Currently, Scotland Food & Drink is working towards Ambition 2030, an industry-led, ambitious strategy with collaboration from industry, government and its agencies and which aims to double the size of the food and drink industry in Scotland to £30 billion in turnover by 2030.

Lucy Husband, UK Market Development Director at Scotland Food & Drink, said:

"As we celebrate Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, it’s great to see that recent public procurement framework developments have resulted in the sector introducing more local suppliers to their facilities across the country. Supplying the public sector can be very profitable for Scottish food and drink producers, and Scotland Food & Drink are working closely with Scotland Excel to highlight these opportunities.  We need Scottish suppliers to engage in this lucrative sector and will be providing future support to understand the changing dynamics and increase in opportunities it brings.”

For food producers and suppliers, the public sector can be a rewarding client. As Andrew Kennedy, Head of Facilities & Property Management at East Ayrshire Council, who have supported local procurement for over 10 years working with a range of local suppliers, puts it:

“We pay our bills! And the continuity of demand, particularly with school meals, means there’s a fairly consistent level of supply requirement which is a positive from a supplier’s point of view.”

As well as reliability, supplying local authority contracts can help to connect businesses more closely to the local community. Magnus Swanson is the owner and Managing Director at Swanson’s Food Wholesalers, who supply The Highland Council with fresh fruit and vegetables for their school meals. Speaking after a recent event to celebrate ten years of the Council’s Soil Association Food for Life Served Here award, he said:

“We’ve been supplying Highland Council with fresh fruit and vegetables for seven years now. Not only do we take great comfort in the fact that our children are being fed the best of local produce, but this also helps to promote what fantastic food is on our doorstep and at the same time supports local farming and agriculture. As a local company we love to support local as much as possible.”

It’s not just larger companies that are getting involved. Recent developments of the national procurement frameworks have successfully increased the number of SMEs supplying Scotland’s public sector. Lynsey Gordon is a Category Manager at Scotland Excel within the Corporate & Education Team, with a remit including the four food frameworks used by schools across Scotland worth approximately £75 million per annum. She explains:

“At Scotland Excel we’ve thought hard about how to encourage a bit more competition in the marketplace and get smaller suppliers onto our frameworks.

“That means looking at options like including lots for supply-only, where suppliers can deliver into a distributor who will handle the delivery to schools. We included that in our updated frozen food framework which went live just over two years ago and brought seven new SMEs onto the framework, so we’ll be doing the same for our upcoming groceries and provisions framework too.”

Meanwhile, local authorities are seeking out opportunities to support their local suppliers. Jayne Jones, National Chair of ASSIST FM, the voice of Scottish local authorities, said:

“Local authorities across Scotland are already making great strides in supporting local food businesses through their procurement. But we know there’s the opportunity to do even more.

“Buying food and drink locally is investing public money back into the local economy, which supports local business and boosts employment. It also ensures that produce is fresh, and shorter delivery distances mean lower food miles, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Putting high quality Scottish food on the public plate benefits everybody involved.”

With a Good Food Nation Bill on the horizon, supporting local sourcing is high on the political agenda. The Scottish Government has signalled its commitment to increasing Scottish sourcing in public procurement through investment in programmes such as Food for Life Scotland, which supports local authorities to serve freshly prepared, locally sourced, sustainable school meals through the Food for Life Served Here award.

Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, said:

“Through our Food for Life programme the Scottish Government is ensuring that more school children than ever are able to access healthy and nutritious meals that have been sourced, grown and produced locally. Scotland has a natural larder that is the envy of the world, and so it’s vital that we do everything we can to encourage more people – including public sector organisations – to look to Scotland first when considering food options.”

If you are a Scottish supplier that would love to see your product on the plates of school children across the country, or a local authority that wants to take advantage of the top-quality Scottish food available in your area, get in touch. Food for Life Scotland’s supply chain officer, Lucie Wardle, is happy to help and can be contacted directly via

Suppliers can also find support from the Supplier Development Programme and find contract opportunities on Public Contracts Scotland

Spirit School experiences launched

Lost Loch Spirits


Micro- tour/tasting  Experience lasts for around 45 minutes, costs £15 per person and includes the following:

  • Tour of the distillery
  • A brief history of gin and absinthe and the art of distilling
  • Botanical sampling
  • Tasting of our award-winning spirits
  • Complimentary Lost Loch Spirits branded glassware

Spirits school 
We want to give participants a hands on experience so they can see what it is like to make a botanical spirit from scratch. This can be a gin but it can also be an absinthe or any botanical based spirit. We will teach the science, the tips and tricks, ratios and what botanical's complement each other but the final recipe comes down those around the still. The experience last around 6 hours and costs between £100 & £115, and includes the following. We have 6 stills and a capacity of 18 per session.

  • Tour of the distillery
  • Access to the Lost Loch botanical library
  • Provision of all-base alcohol
  • Locally sourced buffet lunch including unique Lost Loch produce
  • Shared or solo use of a 5 litre copper alembic still (maximum of 3 persons per still)
  • Complimentary drinks from the Lost Loch bar (soft and alcoholic)
  • Complimentary Lost Loch goodie bag
  • £5 discount of any of our distilled products
  • 50cl bottle of your product with bespoke printed label

We have a massive range of over 100 botanicals which includes everything from mushrooms to marigold flowers. Participants will get hands on with stills and all the tertiary equipment used in the production of a botanical spirit. The bar will be open all day so participants can indulge as they create. We offer an experience that is both fun and educational. We record all recipes produced and if participants want a recipe remade in any volume we can produce it for them at a later date. We want participants to leave with a real understanding of how a botanical spirit is made and to get an insight into how a craft distillery operates.

We also offer bespoke private bookings where we can tailor the experience. Contact for further info

Jay Buckingham
Lost Loch Spirits


Tuck into Scottish produce at one of Glasgow’s top visitor attractions

A chat with Natalie Davidson & Caitlin Houston, senior management,

The Pipers’ Tryst, National Piping Centre


Tell us who you are and what you do

The Pipers’ Tryst Restaurant and Hotel is a hidden gem in the heart of Glasgow city centre, part of The National Piping Centre.  Serving traditional Scottish dishes with a modern twist, we provide the best in Scottish cuisine for our customers.

How important is sourcing local/Scottish to the restaurant and why? Can you share some examples of the suppliers you work with?

Sourcing local ingredients is very important to us as it gives our food the authentic flavour and feel of Scotland. Without top quality ingredients like Fraserburgh Haddock and locally made Haggis from Ramsay’s of Carluke award-winning butchers, our dishes just wouldn’t be the same.

What do visitors typically ask for? Any dishes/products they are keen to taste?

Our Haggis dishes are always in demand. We source it from a fantastic local butcher and with neeps and tatties its usually the first thing our guests go for. Our Fraserburgh Haddock Fish and Handcut Chips is another favourite with our diners, as well as the Cullen Skink – an absolute Scottish classic!

What would you say to other visitor attractions considering doing more to source locally?

Do as much as you can! It gives great flavour, as well as a brilliant way of supporting local businesses across Scotland.

How will you be celebrating Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight?

We’re delighted to be taking part in Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight and will be ensuring all our guests know about it and encourage them to try something new and Scottish!


Find out more here

Follow on twitter @ThePipingCentre

The Oysterman Events

Ferran Seguer

The Oysterman Events


Tell us about yourselves and what you do

The Oysterman Events is an Edinburgh- based company working across Scotland and the north of England. We bring an original, unique and interactive form of catering to all sizes of events and parties. Freshly sourced oysters from the shores of the West Coast are shucked in front of guests by profesional shuckers, checked for quality and offered with a variety of seasonings such as freshly squeezed lemon juice, tabasco, white pepper, ponzu, raspberry vinegar or a mist of malt whisky (or raw for the purists!).

An oysterman or woman provides a wonderful touch, talking point and fun photo opportunities at any type of occasion.


Where do your oysters come from and what’s the story behind them?

We supply Pacific oysters (Crassostrea Gigas), which are the most widely farmed oysters in Scotland. Unfortunately, native oysters (Ostrea Edulis) are quite scarce nowadays.

We work in partnership with Loch Fyne Oysters. It’s great to have such a reliable supplier to work with as providing high quality oysters, consistently, is key for our business.

The simplicity of the oysters is something that also amazes me. They have been around forever and have always been part of the diet of human beings.  They’re simple, tasty and extremely healthy, high in vitamin B, protein and have tonnes of zinc!


Serving oysters at events sounds very exciting and fun – what made you decide to launch the business?

I used to help a friend of mine who ran a similar type of business back home in Barcelona.  When I returned to Scotland over 4 years ago I realised that there was an opportunity here. Seafood is great in Scotland and nobody was offering such service, so I decided to give it a try.  Believe it or not, it's working!


What trends are you noticing in terms of food and drink experiences at events?

Well, I think that now it’s not just about offering food and drink but also the way you do it. Customers are not just looking for good quality products and interesting presentation. They want more, they want a show, to be part of it and an experience. This is where I believe that we bring something completely unique. Our oystermen will shuck the oysters and season them in front of the guests, thus involving them in the experience. Guests often ask to choose they own oyster out of the bucket and we are happy to oblige. We offer a great visual show and can answer questions about the oysters at the same time.

We do not just serve oysters, we bring a show, atmosphere and theatre, as well as some knowledge about these simple but beautiful creatures that have been around for over 200 million years.


Scotland has an ambition to become a global food tourism destination – what do you think about this and what role do you feel you can play?

Scotland is obviously known worldwide for its whisky, but there is a lot more here than that.

I think that Scotland has huge potential in food tourism. The raw produce is simply amazing here, from seafood to meat, berries, mushrooms and vegetables – they all have a really authentic flavour. I really believe that raw material in Scotland is amongst the finest you can find in Europe; it’s just a case of treating the product with the love and care that it deserves. That’s what’s been happening over the last few years and is spreading throughout the country to become almost the norm.

We have recently started working with Seafood From Scotland, which is something I am really happy and proud of. Their aim is to promote Scottish seafood across the world and I hope that with our small company and unique service we can contribute to some extent.

We hope to continue our partnership with Loch Fyne Oysters and keep bringing our services to food lovers at more events and interesting venues throughout the country.

Q&A with John Abraham, Development Chef at Castle MacLellan

How would you sum up what you do at Castle MacLellan?

At Castle MacLellan, we make award-winning, high-quality pâté that generate profits for good causes. In my role as Development Chef, I work closely with local suppliers, retailers and foodservice companies to put our pâtés on the map. It’s a really varied role that includes research trips, recipe development and, my absolute favourite, a lot of eating. It’s great that I can call this work!


You work with lots of other local suppliers. Why is this important to you and can you give us some examples?

As a larger business in a rural community, it’s important to support local businesses and try to champion as many ingredients from the great Scottish larder as possible. We work closely with a local chutney and preserve business where we use its award-winning products in some of our terrines, and we use honey from the local area in our Chicken Liver Pâté.


What’s the secret to making perfect pate?

The perfect pâté must have good-quality ingredients and a great balance of flavours. Add a tasty tipple to the recipe and you’re on to a winner. When it comes to textures, our pâtés range from silky smooth parfaits or slightly coarser pressed terrines – there’s something to suit all tastes.  


How do you come up with ideas for new products/innovations?

To ensure we’re constantly evolving and developing products that consumers will love, it’s important to pay attention to trends and demand. From there it’s a lot of trial and error with regards to recipe development. It’s really important for us to get it just right – no matter how long it takes.


How will Castle MacLellan be celebrating Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight?

To celebrate Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, Castle MacLellan has launched a brand-new range of Light pâtés. Available in three delicious flavours – Salmon with Red Pepper, Tuna and Chicken Liver – each one is less than 170 calories per 100g pot, a source of protein and less than 30% than our standard range.


With more and more people watching what they eat, we wanted to make sure they were able to eat a healthy, balanced diet but still indulge in luxurious pâté. Our new range are perfect for a guilt-free snack, a low-fat but tasty addition to a meal or a light showstopper when entertaining guests.

Follow on insta @castle_maclellan

Preserving Autumn and Cured Mackerel Agro Dolce

Giovanna Eusebi

Eusebi Deli, Glasgow



The cooking of Italy is what I like to refer to as the ‘genius of women’. It is Mamma’s food, which influences Italian menus the world over. Our own restaurant is influenced by the spirit of generations of Italian women, interpreted by modern chefs and local Scottish ingredients. The old ways of cooking are still connected with new, 21st century dishes by the ‘Cucina Povera’, literally ‘the cooking of the poor’ in Southern Italy.


It is a cooking culture my Mother was born into in 1942. At its heart is resourcefulness, and learning to work with what you have around you. Nothing is ever wasted and you must preserve all you can for leaner times. The seasons dictated your larder, as there were no supermarkets or freezers to rely on. At this time of year, when the autumn mists roll in over the Aurunci Mountains, the trees around them defined my family’s food. Chestnuts were harvested by the women and carried in baskets on their head.


The trees were also laden with figs at this time of year. Once ripe enough, these provided a sweet breakfast treat. It was indeed a welcome change from the modest bowl of ‘pan cotto’ – a soup made of stale bread, cooked in water and finished with their homemade oil. The figs were dried on straw mats outdoors and covered with a muslin cloth. They were dried naturally by the sun and stored to be enjoyed in the December festive period.


Almonds or walnuts were inserted into the dried fruit, threaded onto sticks and cooked on the fire for Christmas Day. Woodland fruits, like morella berries, which are now considered to be a ‘superfood’, were eaten fresh. Stone fruits like cherries, plums and pears were also preserved. The sap from the plum trees was collected by my Mum and stored in tins. This was given to her Uncle, a cabinetmaker, to lacquer furniture.


Protein was provided in the form of eggs from their chickens and used to make pasta. Sheep’s milk was used for cheese making and its wool made into thread. Locally caught ‘sardu’, giant sardines were preserved in salt for the winter months, to be enjoyed with peppers in their own wine vinegar.


The only interruption of their carefree existence came in the war years. Germans heavily occupied the village, and overnight, their land was cruelly sabotaged. The land became killing fields, laden with booby trap mines. My Mum lost her own Grandfather and two Uncles, desperately trying to maintain their crops to feed their hungry families. My Grandfather had to change from a humble farmer to partisan, risking everything to lead British troops to safe crossings over the nearby Garigliano River en-route to Cassino.


It took years of work to restore their land; many villagers fled the famine, including my Mum. Firstly, crossing oceans to Brazil and then to Lyon. Their baggage was materially light, but emotionally laden with hope, fear and a conviction that one day they would return to their land or ‘terra’ once more. One thing that was never lost was the experience, knowledge and skills from living off the land and being resourceful with what they had around them.


Cured Mackerel Agro Dolce

 This is a recipe that is true to the ‘Cucina Povera’ principles of using local produce and preserving techniques. Mackerel is a fantastic ingredient to use, as it’s cost effective and caught locally in Scottish waters. The recipe is also finished with simple, store cupboard ingredients to give a delicious Italian twist.


Serves 4


8-10 cooked mackerel fillets

2 red peppers


For the curing marinade: 

3 bay leaves

6 sprigs of thyme

500ml water

125ml cider vinegar

1 tsp salt


For the onion vinaigrette:

95ml extra virgin olive oil

15ml balsamic vinegar

1 spring onion, fine chopped

15g chives, finely chopped


For the garnish:

1 tbsp sultanas

1 tbsp toasted pine nuts

Salt and pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

Micro basil



  1. First, make the curing marinade. Add all the ingredients to a pan and bring a simmer. Set aside and leave to cool completely. Place the mackerel fillets skin side down in a tray. Cover with the marinade and leave in the fridge for 3 hours.
  2. Roast the peppers in a hot oven for 40 minutes. Allow to cool and then remove the skins and cut into slices.
  3. Make the onion vinaigrette by combining all the ingredients together in a bowl and whisking together.
  4. To assemble, lay half of the peeled pepper slices on each plate. Add 2 to 3 mackerel fillets around the plate and season with salt and pepper. Scatter over the sultanas and pine nuts. Spoon over the vinaigrette and finish with a little extra virgin olive oil and micro basil.


Photography by Gerardo Jaconelli.

Whisky and hiking tour, anyone?

A chat with Calum Mcnee

Stills and Hills


Tell us about yourself and what you do – what’s Stills and Hills all about and why did you set it up?

After 20 years in Tourism, helping to grow and develop the successful tour company Rabbie’s, I decided it was time for a different challenge. I wanted to get back to a more hands- on job, personally meeting and guiding my guests around Scotland, providing them with a unique and personalised experience of the country. I picked my favourite areas of tourism to focus on – Whisky tours and Hiking trips – hence Stills and Hills. Most of my tours are based around whisky – distillery visits, tastings and unique whisky moments like my Scenic Daily Dram.  However even within the first two years I have diversified into many other specialist areas – from Outlander themed trips to textile and yarn tours.


What trends are you seeing in the demand for experiences like this?

The move to small group touring seems to have accelerated over the last few years with ever increasing number of small, independent tour operators coming into the market. The focus is very much on delivering high- end, personalised experiences and working with small groups allows the flexibility to adapt to the clients’ interests. Small operators like myself are focusing on particular types of tour, specific areas of the country or even distinct types of clients. This move towards many operators offering more specialist services is, for me, very positive as it raises the quality of experience for the visitors, although it can be more difficult to for the traditional travel trade operators to work with.


Where do your guests mainly come from and what do they enjoy most about the tours?

The bulk of my clients so far have been from North America – obviously a key market for Scotland but also one in which many of our visitors are wealthy enough and prepared to spend their money on personalised tours like mine. Whisky tours are very popular too in the Scandinavian markets but they are more budget conscious and, for them, day trips are more common than longer tours. It’s almost always the scenery and natural beauty of Scotland that makes the biggest impression. I think many visitors are surprised by how much space we have and how unspoilt so much of the country is. They are also very pleasantly surprised by the quality of food available throughout Scotland.


Scotland aspires to becoming a global food tourism destination – what do you think about this?

Personally, I think it is almost there already – in the quality and choice available. There’s no shortage of excellent food and drink options available throughout Scotland.  However, the general international perception is still that food and cooking in Scotland are not of high quality, and it’s very rarely mentioned as a reason for coming here. The exception, of course, is Whisky, which is a prime interest for many of my guests and always of at least passing interest to the rest. The biggest challenge for Scotland’s food industry is to change the long held and very persistent view that Scottish (and British) food is not exciting.


How will you be celebrating Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight?

I’ll be on tour with a couple of small groups from the US, showing them the best of Scottish scenery, history and eating out. I’ll be making reservations in advance for many places as it’s not always been easy to get a table at the best places this summer – a sign of success, but also demand exceeding supply at busy times.

And, of course, since the company is Stills and Hills there are always a few samples of Single Malt Whisky in the back of the bus to be savoured at some suitable point enroute – the Scenic Daily Dram has become an essential part of any tour!