Colonsay is home to a thriving community of food and drink producers making beer, bread, gin and honey. Here are some of our favourites:
Colonsay Ales is one of the smallest islands in the world with its own brewery, the Colonsay Beer Co. Brewing three main beers, Colonsay IPA, Hangman’s Rock and Pigs Paradise, using the island’s pure Hebridean water, it can be sampled in the brewery or is sold on tap at the Colonsay Hotel and bottles can be bought from The Pantry.
Colonsay produces two gins! Wild Island Gin was created by the team behind the Colonsay brewery. Its gins uses six native plants which are hand gathered – lemon balm, wild water mint, meadowsweet, sea buckthorn, heather flowers and bog myrtle. A small-scale still located on the island is used, along with further gin being produced on the mainland (using island botanicals). Wild Thyme Spirits produce small batches of juniper-based gin in a traditional copper still and offer ‘gin retreats’ where you can sample their collection of over 200 gins from around the world.
Colonsay is one of the last places in Britain where the native black bee can be found. It is such a special colony that the Scottish Government has conferred reserve status to the island to avoid diluting the rare genetic lineage with off-island honeybees. The bees collect and convert nectar from the wildflowers and herbs of Colonsay’s machair into honey, its taste changing throughout the flowering season. Beekeeper and oyster farmer, Andrew Abrahams, has kept bees on Colonsay for over 30 years, and more recently started hives on Oronsay. The honey and honeycomb can be purchased at the Colonsay Pantry and the Colonsay General Store.
Duggie Reid the local fisherman will sell lobster and crabs when available from his fishing boat (call him on 01951 200368). Andrew Abrahams, the beekeeper, also farms oysters. They must be ordered in advance, and if you order more than four dozen, Andrew will come and open them for you (call Andrew on 01951 200365). He also supplies the Colonsay Hotel which serves a seafood platter. The Colonsay Pantry has dedicated and very popular seafood nights on Wednesday and Saturday (book to avoid missing out).
The Colonsay Panty has its own small bakery and makes delicious fly cemetery slice, Colonsay crunch, scone and moist chocolate cakes.
Colonsay Food and Drink Festival
Offering cooking classes, talks and tastings by renowned experts and local food and drink producers the programme includes whisky, gin and wine tasting; foraging; bottling and preserving; bread baking; chocolate making; guided walks and so much more. Runs annually in October. More info here
More ideas on what to do on Colonsay
- Cycle the island circuit – more here
- Wild swim at Kiloran Bay and experience the “Colonsay washing machine”
- Attempt all 22 MacPhies – more here
- Help grow the whale sculpture by adding a stone – more here
- Climb to the island highpoint for great views – more here – more here
- Go the beach – find the best ones here
- Walk to the tidal island of Oronsay – more here