Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms is a destination renowned for its acres of rich, fertile land and the clear spring waters which cut through it. This distinct landscape plays a key role in producing the best home grown ingredients, which are then used to create tasty dishes in the region’s restaurants and hotels. But the rugged terrain also adds a special something to Royal Deeside’s locally produced beverages.
Acknowledged as Scotland’s national drink, whisky – in the Gaelic, uisge beatha (pronounced oosh-ga beh-huh), meaning water of life – has been produced here for longer than anyone can remember, and is a firm favourite with Royal Deeside’s visitors and residents alike. Royal Lochnagar Distillery, next to Balmoral Castle, produces arguably some of the best single malt whisky in the country. In part, this is thanks to the fresh Scottish spring water used in its production, as well as the age old traditions and craftsmanship upheld by the distillery. Lochnagar’s 12-Year-Old or Special Reserve whiskies can be found in some of the local bars and hotels that scatter this area and are well worth sampling. Visitors who want to know more about this fiery liquid can delve deeper into the world of whisky by following the Malt Whisky Trail in nearby Speyside.
Brewing in Scotland has taken place for over 5,000 years – it was started by the ancient Picts who used spruce and heather in their fermented refreshments. Today the ingredients and methods used in breweries may have moved on but the ales are even more distinctive and wonderful!
Cambus O’May Cheese Company have built a business out of celebrating the best of the local area through the taste – and naming – of their cheeses. Launched in 2008, the Ballater-based operation stocks delis and shops throughout Aberdeenshire, as well as selling at local markets. Visitors to the Cambus O’May’s facility outside Ballater are invited to watch the Deeside creamery in action from the viewing area; while the more hardcore fan can indulge in an accredited one-day cheesemaker course.
Dee Valley Confectioners established by the Skene brothers in 1965 are manufacturers and suppliers of traditional hand-made sweets including boilings (such as Soor Plooms), Lucky Tatties, fudge and tablet, and are based in the Station Square in Ballater
HM Sheridan with several by Royal Appointments are a traditional butcher who have been trading since 1963. Their beef is purchased from local farms and matured for twenty one days, lamb is local black face, heather fed for a unique, rich taste, pork is sourced from Aberdeenshire and reared outdoors and venison is purchased from the wild herd on the local estate. As it is wild there is a very distinctive flavour – venison is also a very healthy lean meat.