Skip to main content

1000th Taste Our Best venue announced

Press Release   •   Dec 09, 2015 09:55 GMT

Scotland’s Food Secretary Richard Lochhead has announced the coveted 1000th Taste Our Best accreditation has been awarded to The Royal Exchange Coffee House, part of The Real Mary King’s Close visitor attraction in Edinburgh.

The Cabinet Secretary was joined by The Real Mary King’s Close general manager Craig Miller at a special event at the SECC last night (Tuesday) celebrating Scotland’s successes in the food and drink sector throughout the past year – which includes doubling the number of Taste Our Best accredited establishments in just 12 months.

Mr 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.”

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 favourite. 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.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said:

“We are proud to reach this magnificent milestone in the Year of Food and Drink and delighted that The Real Mary King's Close is our 1000th Taste Our Best recipient. For this five-star visitor attraction to achieve the accreditation only months after opening its cafe goes to show the excellent standards it sets itself.

“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.

“Taste Our Best is open to restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes, takeaways, accommodation providers and visitor attractions – 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.”

James Withers, Chief Executive of Scotland Food & Drink said:

“2015 has been a real milestone year for Scotland’s food and drink industry.  The sector crossed the £14 billion mark in annual turnover for the first time and we’ve seen all parts of the country celebrate the fantastic people and products that make up this Land of Food and Drink. The fact Scotland can celebrate a Year of Food & Drink is testament to the journey we’ve been on. 

“Our sector is a source of pride for Scotland and so it should be - we have an amazing mix of long-established and newly emerging businesses which are now thriving. The challenge into the future is to make every year feel like a celebration of our sector. With more and more hotels, restaurants and destinations showcasing local food, I’ve no doubt that the momentum from 2015 can continue in the years ahead.”

- ENDS -


Taste Our Best accreditation ensures that customers are eating quality ingredients of Scottish provenance and the freshest seasonal produce. Taste Our Best establishments strive to source food locally to ensure they keep food miles to a minimum. Taste Our Best also helps to raise the profile of Scottish food as an important part of tourism, giving credit to those who are achieving high standards and encouraging others to aspire to them.

The Real Mary King’s Close

Hidden beneath the Royal Mile, lies one of Edinburgh’s deepest secrets – The Real Mary King’s Close. This warren of hidden ‘closes’ or narrow streets where people lived, worked and died, lay forgotten and covered by the City Chambers on the Royal Mile for centuries, until in 2003 it opened as a fascinating new visitor attraction for Edinburgh.

Operated by Continuum Attractions, this Scottish Tourist Board accredited five-star attraction, allows visitors to step back in time and be guided through these famous underground closes to witness some of the most dramatic episodes from Edinburgh’s incredible past.

The Royal Exchange Coffee House

The attraction’s new café, The Royal Exchange Coffee House, opened in Summer 2015 as part of a £500,000 redevelopment project. The menu showcases locally sourced produce and a variety of Scottish favourites. Suppliers include Northern Edge Coffee, Rendalls Quality Butchers and Anteaques.

The café’s name alludes to The Royal Exchange Coffee House which operated between the mid-18th and early 19th centuries and could be accessed via what is now the Quadrangle of the City Chambers.


Claire Stanley :  0131 244 2614 / 07580 485951

Notes to Editors

    • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
    • 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.
    • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to
    • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
    • For holiday information on Scotland go to
    • For information about business events in Scotland go to

    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