Andy Gem­mell’s Drinks Cabi­net

Sunday Herald Life - - DRINK -

Caw­dor Tav­ern Caw­dor, Nairn

What is it: The pic­turesque con­ser­va­tion vil­lage of Caw­dor is lo­cated 10 miles form In­ver­ness. The Tav­ern is si­t­u­ated in what was Caw­dor cas­tle’s work­shop.

Dur­ing the 1960s, it was turned into a place to eat, drink and re­lax, pre­dom­i­nately for the es­tate work­ers. Since then, it has evolved into one of the best pubs in the area.

In 1994, hus­band and wife team Nor­man and Chris­tine Sin­clair took over Caw­dor Tav­ern and made it their mis­sion to cre­ate a place that the lo­cals and vis­i­tors would be proud of and which they’d want to keep revisiting.

I spent most of my time in the lounge bar, with its tra­di­tional log fire and orig­i­nal oak pan­elling, which was gifted by the for­mer laird and came from the Caw­dor Cas­tle din­ing room it­self.

In­ter­est­ing fact: Nearby Caw­dor Cas­tle is steeped in his­tory and is thought to date back to the mid-1300s, with some his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ments also show­ing that it may even have been built as early as 1310. Caw­dor Cas­tle is steeped in sto­ries, myths and leg­ends, with the most fa­mous be­ing the con­nec­tion to Shake­speare’s Mac­beth, though the his­tor­i­cal con­nec­tion is un­founded since the cas­tle didn’t ex­ist in the 11th cen­tury (the time of the real Mac­beth).

Ver­dict: This is the third time I have been here and I loved it just as much as my pre­vi­ous vis­its. I love the fact that the own­ers have not tried to up­date the decor. It feels au­then­tic and real. The ser­vice is al­ways friendly and wel­com­ing, which is hugely im­por­tant, since it’s in this area that many other places fall down. The Caw­dor Tav­ern is a great place to visit with fam­ily and friends while vis­it­ing the area. On en­ter­ing, you in­stantly know that this placed is well-loved and fam­ily-run.

Drink: Great se­lec­tion of wines, beers and spir­its are on of­fer here. You may see quite a wide se­lec­tion of beers from the Sin­clair Brew­ery group, which in­cor­po­rates Orkney and At­las Ales. This is be­cause Or­ca­dian-born Nor­man Sin­clair owns the com­pany. The Orkney Brew­ery in par­tic­u­lar pro­duces multi-award­win­ning ales which are sold world­wide; they are all pro­duced on the site which was the orig­i­nal Quoy­loo Academy on Orkney, where Sin­clair’s fa­ther went to school. They have a huge se­lec­tion, but you have to try the Nim­bus, which is a rich, blonde beer packed with flavour. Food: There is a big fo­cus on lo­cal Scot­tish pro­duce here with all the clas­sic dishes you would hope to find in a High­land tav­ern. I or­dered the home-cooked steak and Orkney ale pie with slow braised beef and Dark Is­land ale, but­ter mash and veg­eta­bles of the day, for £13.50.

Prices: Noth­ing to com­plain about. Chil­dren: Kid-friendly. Al fresco: There is a nice lit­tle pa­tio area out front for the sun­nier days.

Per­fect for: Ex­plor­ing the lo­cal area be­fore set­tling down here to some great food and drink. Avoid if: You pre­fer stick­ing to the usual city cen­tre venues. Fol­low me on Twit­ter @andy­drink or on Face­book

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