Another great post in our series about the best souvenirs to buy around the world! Here, we look at what to buy from Scotland.
The Best Souvenirs to Buy in Scotland
There are few foods more synonymous with a country than haggis is with Scotland, and it is one of those national cuisines that is easy to throw into a suitcase and travel home with, making it a perfect souvenir.
Haggis is a savoury and spiced pudding made from the liver, heart and lungs of the sheep, mixed with oatmeal, onion, suet, salt and spices. It is also traditionally boiled in the actual stomach of the lamb, meaning it may not be for the squeamish.
While it is obviously one of the most popular foods of Scotland, it is more commonly found at the local chip shops, or in tourist areas, as it can be tricky enough to find in local butchers. But it will always be easier to find them in the bigger supermarkets where the big Scottish brand would be Macsween’s Haggis which is even available as a vegetarian alternative. Serve with neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes).
Harris Tweed is a popular souvenir to bring back from a trip to Scotland. It’s a really high-quality product that you can find in many gift shops across the country but to make it extra special you can visit the island of Harris and watch it being made.
Every single process involved in producing this beautifully made tweed happens on Harris and you can learn all about it at the Harris Tweed Story room. This Tweed is used to make so many things including bags and purses, jackets, boots, gloves and scarfs. The colours used will remind you of Scotland such as the purple of the heather, the sage green of the moss-covered hills, the greys and blues of the morning sky and the beige and browns of the forest floor.
Harris Tweed is a wonderful piece of Scotland to take home but make sure it’s the proper stuff, it’ll have the Harris Tweed Orb emblem so look out for that. It can be a little pricey but it’s worth it for the quality and there are smaller items like a purse or phone case which are much more affordable.
A quaich is a shallow bowl with two handles which is traditionally used as a drinking vessel in Scotland. Originally quaichs were made from wood but since at least the 17th century they have commonly been made in silver and today they are also made in pewter.
They were originally designed to offer a welcoming drink of whisky or brandy to guests and were passed around for everyone to drink from. Today the quaich is often used as a drinking vessel at ceremonies including weddings where it is passed around the wedding party as a cup of friendship. It is also commonly presented as a gift on special occasions or as a prize instead of a trophy.
Quaichs can be purchased widely in Scotland and the best places to buy one as a souvenir are traditional Scottish gift shops, jewellery shops or kilt shops. There are a also a few craft people who make wooden quaichs in various parts of Scotland and you can buy from them directly.
The price for a handcrafted wooden quaich starts at about £35, pewter quaichs can cost from £35 and good quality sterling silver quaichs start at around £300 but can cost much more.
Many travelers to Scotland take home a stuffed Coo (the famous long haired Scottish cows), something Tartan (the famous Scottish pattern) or some whisky (the most famous Scottish invention ever). One of the best things to eat in Scotland has to be shortbread and it makes a perfect souvenir. Many people mistakenly associate shortbread with England not Scotland. But make no mistake, it’s 100% Scottish.
Shortbread is a super-buttery cookie that has been around since the 1700s. It is sold in a variety of flavors including chocolate chip, butterscotch, salted caramel, and more. Eaten on its own or even better with a hot cup of tea, shortbread cookies are simply delicious.
Shortbread cookies can be found throughout Scotland making them an easy souvenir to find. Keep an eye out for Walkers and MacLean’s Highlands; both are from the famous Speyside whisky region and are the two best and most popular brands of shortbread cookies. A box of either brand purchased in a supermarket will cost around £2-3.
While shortbread cookies are easy to find and relatively inexpensive, the one downside to bringing them home is they are fragile. No surprise that packing a box or two of shortbread cookies for your flight home could result in a box of shortbread crumbs, instead of cookies. Tasty crumbs nonetheless.
By Amber Hoffman, author of Food And Drink Destinations.
You may have heard that the Scots have a collective sweet tooth and tablet is certainly evidence of that! Tablet is a crumbly version of fudge – where fudge is chewy, tablet is a medium-hard solid chunk of sugar, butter and condensed milk.
You’ll find it all over Scotland. Big brands sold in supermarkets and souvenir shops are sometimes a little cheaper but I love to seek out small-batch artisan tablet made locally to where I’m visiting. Best of all are the flavoured variations such as ginger, chocolate Irn Bru and a personal favourite – whisky tablet!
Expect to pay between £2 and £6 for a small box or bag.
By Kavita Favelle, author of Kavey Eats. Find me on Instagram.
My favorite souvenir from Scotland is a tartan scarf. The majority of my ancestors came from Scotland to the United States in the early 1700s and then again in the 1800s. Although I am far removed from feeling like a Scot, it was fun to bring home a small bit of my heritage.
Tartan Scarves can be found all over Scotland, but if you want the largest selection, visit the Tartan Weaving Mill in Edinburgh. This enormous store on the Royal Mile has tartans from every clan in Scotland and they have very knowledgeable clerks to help you find your ancestors’ section. My family are the Campbells and there are 2 different patterns for them, so I told the clerk that my family was from the area near Stirling and he steered me to the correct one.
Prices for a basic tartan scarf at the Tartan Weaving Mill are 17 Euros. We found the price to be pretty much the same from shop to shop but the materials that were used weren’t consistent.The scarves at the Tartan Weaving Mill are made of 100% lambswool, which makes them very soft and very warm. Many other places charge similar prices but use a high percentage of acrylic.
I highly recommend a tartan scarf as a souvenir that is fun but also useful. My boys are still wearing theirs 2 years later, and it is fun to see them and remember our amazing trip!
By Alicia Richards, author of Travels With The Crew. Find her on Instagram.
Whisky (without an e) is probably Scotland’s most famous product, and one that is enormously popular as a souvenir. There are over 120 whisky distilleries in Scotland, each one producing several different whiskies each, from grain to malt whiskies, from blends to single grains and single malts, from unpeated to heavily peated and everything between, not to mention whiskies aged in bourbon and sherry barrels.
Including a visit to one or more distilleries is a great experience to include in your holiday to Scotland. The five whisky-producing regions are Campbeltown, Highland, Islay, Lowland and Speyside.
Married to a whisky lover, I’ve been to more whisky distilleries than you’d expect for someone who’s not a fan myself. Surprisingly, I always enjoy these visits as it’s fascinating to learn the history of each distillery, and to see their production processes. Most have a tasting room and shop; samples of their lower-priced whiskies are often given free of charge, whereas tastings of some of the higher end or specialist whiskies available for a charge. If you are keen, find out in advance if there are tutored tastings available to pre-book.
If you can’t make it to a distillery to taste and buy direct, pop into one of the many specialist whisky shops to be found in many of Scotland’s cities such as Cadenhead’s, Royal Mile Whiskies, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (in Edinburgh), Loch Fyne Whiskies (in Argyll), Gordon & Macphail (in Elgin), Good Spirits Co. and Robert Graham (in Glasgow), and Aberdeen Whisky Shop (in Aberdeen). Some of these also offer samples and tutored tasting experiences.
Of course, you can also find a selection of whiskies in supermarkets and general off-license (alcohol) shops. Whilst there are a few cheaper offerings, particularly supermarket own-brands (that don’t show a distillery name), expect to pay a minimum of £40 to £50 for 70cl bottles from the distilleries, and into the hundreds of pounds for older, or special edition whiskies.
By Kavita Favelle, author of Kavey Eats.
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Images provided by individual contributors.