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1000 tasty reasons to love Scotland

Press release   •   Dec 18, 2015 14:53 GMT

From the world’s narrowest hotel to Scotland’s tallest lighthouse, and from the café at the Scottish Parliament to the UK’s most northerly chip shop, a new food and drink initiative has taken the country by gastronomical storm during 2015.

VisitScotland is celebrating the 1000th awardee of the Taste Our Best accreditation scheme, a quality assurance initiative that recognises eateries that provide and promote quality Scottish produce.

The Royal Exchange Coffee House, part of The Real Mary King’s Close visitor attraction in Edinburgh, was presented with the 1000th award by Richard Lochhead, Scottish Food Secretary.

Launched in September 2013, Taste Our Best is a joint initiative between the national tourism organisation and the Scottish Government. Assessors rate the overall eating experience, the extent to which Scottish produce (at least 40%) is used and promoted, and staff knowledge of the produce on the menu and its provenance.

Highlights of the 1000 Taste Our Best accredited business are:

  • The world’s narrowest hotel: The Famous Star Hotel in Moffat dates from the late 1700s and, at only 20ft wide and 162ft long, has been named the World’s Narrowest Hotel by the Guinness Book of Records.
  • The most westerly: The Old Shop House is a family-run B&B and, located on the beautiful Hebridean island of North Uist.
  • The most northerly: Frankie’s Fish and Chips on the shores of Busta Voe, Shetland was voted the UK’s no.1 Fish & Chip Shop in the National Fish & Chip Awards 2015.
  • The tallest land-based lighthouse in the UK: The Lighthouse Visitor Centre on North Ronaldsay is also the oldest intact lighthouse in Scotland.
  • The most southerly: East Muntloch Croft B&B, Mull of Galloway.
  • The most easterly: Buchan Braes Hotel, located in the village of Boddam, just 5 minutes’ drive from Peterhead.
  • The most northerly inhabited castle in the UK: The Castle and Gardens of Mey, which was renovated and restored by The Queen Mother.
  • The one with the most unusual postcode: Scottish Parliament Café at Holyrood.
  • The most nautical: Caledonian MacBrayne was the first ferry company to achieve Taste Our Best and has since been joined by NorthLink Ferries.

Food and drink is a key part of the visitor economy and generates more than £2.5 million per day through tourism, with research finding that two thirds of Scotland’s visitors think quality food is an important factor when deciding to go on holiday.

In the past year, the number of visitor attractions achieving the accreditation has risen by 88% from 85 in January to 160 in December. The number of small serviced accommodation providers, like B&B’s and Guest Houses, awarded Taste Our Best has also seen a substantial rise, from 302 to 561.

Scotland’s Food Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

“This has been a phenomenal year for Scotland’s food and drink industry, and doubling the number of Taste Our Best establishments is a real achievement. We started off with 500 in January, and here we are, less than a year later, with 1000. I can’t think of a better way to round up the Year of Food and Drink, and I’d like to offer huge congratulations to Craig and the team at The Royal Exchange Coffee House, within The Real Mary King’s Close, for sourcing Scottish produce and their continued support of the sector.

“This year has thrown the spotlight onto our fantastic natural larder and has offered us countless opportunities to celebrate and promote it to the world. The turnover value of the sector now stands at £14.3 billion, with our manufacturing growth rate double that of the UK average. The statistics speak for themselves – more and more people are selling our food in greater numbers than ever before, and I want to see that continue into 2016 and beyond.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said:

“Scotland can be proud of its natural larder and the Taste Our Best scheme recognises that. Not only does it indicate to visitors that the establishment believes in quality but it also shows they are committed to promoting local produce and giving customers a true taste of Scotland.

“From restaurants to Scotland’s built heritage, chippies to ferries, Taste Our Best is open to any business with a food and drink offering. With research finding that three out of four visitors think eating local cuisine will enhance their visit, Taste Our Best really is a recipe for success.”

Craig Miller, general manager at The Real Mary King’s Close said:

“We are delighted to be the 1000th business to receive the Taste Our Best accreditation from VisitScotland. At The Real Mary King’s Close we pride ourselves in offering our guests an authentic experience of Scottish history and we wanted to extend this authenticity to our recently opened café, The Royal Exchange Coffee House.

“The menu features locally sourced produce and Scottish favourites. We carefully considered which suppliers to use to ensure that our guests experience a real taste of Scotland and we are very proud to be able to work with local businesses. Scotland’s food and drink is renowned worldwide and we are thrilled to be playing our part encouraging guests to eat local and experience the best Scotland has to offer.”

Notes to Editors

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    • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
    • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
    • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
      1. Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland       to visit different parts of the country
      2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
      3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international       opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One       Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
      4. Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
      5. Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
      6. Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
      7. Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
    • VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
    • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
    • According to a recent Deloitte study, the tourism economy supports 270,000 jobs in Scotland in 20,000 diverse businesses. The same study calculates that the tourism      economy contributes £11 billion annually (direct and indirect impact, including day visits) and supports around 10 per cent of employment in Scotland. Almost 16 million tourists take overnight trips to Scotland.
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    Year of Food and Drink 2015

    • 2015 is the Year of Food and Drink, a celebration of Scotland’s natural larder and the role that food and drink plays in shaping our economic success.
    • Scotland generates over £2.5m per day through food and drink tourism.
    • A series of themed months will create an appetite for key areas of Scotland’s food and drink industries – from seafood and whisky to berries and high-quality meat
    • For more information, visit