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21st October 2022

Scotland’s far north serves up autumn feast for food and drink lovers

Photos available via Dropbox links below…

Scotland’s far north and most northerly section of the world-famous North Coast 500 is serving up a feast of food and drink events across Sutherland and Caithness this autumn.

The line-up of North Highland food and drink events and activities is being supported by Venture North, the destination management organisation that promotes responsible tourism in the far north Highlands of Scotland, as part of its autumn and winter campaign.

Food and drink lovers of all ages can look forward to a heart-warming menu of Highland food and drink, cooking demonstrations by local chefs, distillery and brewery tours, as well a warm Highland welcome, real log fires and breathtaking views, including the Dornoch Whisky Festival (28th-30th October), ‘Taste North’ in Wick (6th November), as well as ‘The Far North Spirits & Beer Festival’, an inaugural spirits and beer festival taking place across Scotland’s ‘far north’ throughout November.

Individual businesses and venues taking part in the line-up of events include Dunnet Bay Distillery near Thurso, 8 Doors Distillery at John O’Groats and The Carnegie Whisky Cellars in Dornoch.

Venture North is already working with over 250 tourism and hospitality businesses, local community groups and industry partners across the region to help extend the season and bring business to local visitor economies over the quieter autumn and winter months.

The initiative is being geared towards promoting reasons to visit and explore Caithness and Sutherland from October to March, showcasing areas that are less impacted by over-tourism and can accommodate visitors in the quieter season, as well as highlighting the long-established relationship between tourism and wellbeing.

Ellie Lamont, Venture North board director, said:

“Venture North is delighted to be able to host the return of Taste North in Wick on 6th November. We’re looking forward to seeing all our past exhibitors and visitors, as well as being able to welcome new businesses and entice a growing number of attendees to the much-anticipated festival of the best the north has to offer.

“We’re delighted to be bringing our own local chefs to the stage to cook up some delicious meals and our programme is packed with cookery and cocktail demonstrations, as well as our Taste North challenge competition and family activities.”

Lou Rollason from the Dornoch Whisky Festival, said:

“We’re so excited that the Dornoch Whisky Festival is coming back in full force for 2022. This year we’ll be continuing to work with some fantastic brands and do some great collaborations between them and our local businesses. It’s such a delightful wee festival emphasising knowledge and learning, regardless of someone’s experience in whisky.

“Since October is such a beautiful time of year in the Highlands, we love that we play a small part in the Highland calendar to encourage people to visit outside of the summer rush.”

Cathy Earnshaw is Destination Strategy Manager for Venture North and leads the Tourism Recovery Strategy for Caithness and Sutherland. She said:

“One of the key focus areas in our Tourism Destination Recovery Strategy is to support and develop events and festivals that encourage people to enjoy and visit Caithness and Sutherland outwith the main summer season, and to encourage visitors to explore less populated parts of the region.

“We have been building a range of themed visitor itineraries to showcase the region over the autumn and winter, including ‘Explore’, ‘Adventure’, ‘Breath’ and ‘Enjoy’. At this time of year, we have some globally recognised food and drink events to enjoy, including the Dornoch Whisky Festival in October and Taste North in November.

“We’re also excited to be supporting the inaugural Far North Spirits & Beer Festival throughout November, which is a locally-led initiative to showcase the up-and-coming spirits and beer products and experiences in Caithness and the far north.

“I’m delighted to see that the far north is now firmly establishing itself as a world-class leader for spirits and beer that’s worth celebrating.”

Venture North is the destination management organisation for Caithness and Sutherland, which is leading the development and delivery of the Tourism Destination Recovery Strategy (2021-23). Core funding support is provided by Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd and other funding partners.

The organisation is continuing to work in partnership with local development trusts, communities and representative bodies and tourism businesses from across the region, to ensure a collective ownership and delivery of the Strategy at regional level. The organisation also supports member businesses and communities across the region through effective collaboration to maximise the benefits of the visitor economy.

Venture North has devised a series of suggested themed itineraries to help visitors explore Caithness and Sutherland over the autumn and winter months, which are now available on the Venture North website

Venture North has also launched a series of five short films to showcase Caithness and Sutherland to visitors across the UK and beyond this autumn and winter, including ‘Venture North to Caithness & Sutherland’

For more information about the Dornoch Whisky Festival and for tickets, visit

For more information about Taste North, visit

For more information on some of the best food and drink venues, events and activities in Sutherland and Caithness this autumn and winter, including ‘The Far North Spirits & Beer Festival’, visit

Follow Venture North on social media for events updates, including Facebook; Twitter and Instagram


Media contact

Jonathan Perkins

07894 711 515

Notes to Editor


  1. Photos of Taste North are available on Dropbox. Please credit Venture North: 

  1. Photos of Dornoch Whisky Festival are available on Dropbox> Please credit Dornoch Whisky Festival: 

  1. Photos of Dunnet Bay Distillery, which is taking part in The Far North Spirits & Beer Festival, are available on Dropbox. Please credit Dunnet Bay Distillery:

Venture North visitor itineraries:

Landing page:

Just Be:




Venture North videos:

Landing page video:

Just Be video:

Adventure video:

Discover video:

Enjoy video:

Venture North Board Directors

Andrew Mackay
Andrew owns the Caithness Collection, three hotels in Caithness (the Castletown Hotel, the Pentland Hotel and the Norseman Hotel).  As well as providing accommodation for individuals, the hotels also cater for coach parties.  Andrew is an Alumni member of the St Julian Scholars and his previous roles have included management roles in Marriott and De Vere Hotels in London, Southampton and Brighton.  He brings a range of skills and industry knowledge to the organisation, including the wider UK hospitality experience and coach tours market.

Catherine Macleod

A founder member of Venture North in 2013, Catherine runs Thrumster House, a family run home providing self-catering, B&B, fishing, field sports and falconry.   She is the current Chair and brings a range of skills and industry knowledge to the organisation especially from the aspect of running an estate as a tourism business. Catherine represents the organisation at key stakeholder meetings with bodies such Visit Scotland and the Scottish Tourism Alliance.  As a founder member, she has helped shape Venture North into a grass roots collaborative organisation focussing on the tourism offer of Caithness and Sutherland.

David Watson

David joined the Venture North board in 2022. He has been the manager of the Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust since 2018. David has more than 20 years of experience working in Economic and Community Development across the Highlands and Islands after working as a Senior Development Manager for HIE in Inverness and Shetland, as well as Economic Development Manager for the Cairngorms National Park Authority.

David is a native of Sutherland and his family have been living in the same crofting community since the 1880s. He is passionate about the sustainability of the North Highlands and has a keen interest in the social and natural heritage of Sutherland. David initiated and chaired the Sutherland Community Planning Partnership Sustainable Tourism sub-group and is the chair of the Far North Line Community Rail Partnership.

Ellie Lamont
A founder member of Venture North, a previous Chair and now Vice Chair, Ellie owns and runs Mackay Hotel with husband Murray. Mackays Hotel is an award-winning family run hotel, located on the World’s shortest street in Wick.  Ellie brings a range of skills and industry knowledge to the organisation.  As a founder member and former Chair, she has been instrumental in shaping Venture North into the organisation it is today. Originally training as an accountant before moving into hospitality and consultancy, Ellie brings financial integrity and expertise to the organisation.  Ellie represents the organisation at key stakeholder meetings alongside Catherine and is Venture North’s link to NC500 and the North Highland Initiative, other tourism bodies.  Ellie is also a WorldHost trainer and delivers hospitality training not only in-house but to schools and the tourism industry as a whole.

Jo Wyke

Jo Wyke re-joined the Venture North board in 2022, having been a founder member of the organisation back in 2013 and was instrumental in the success of the Venture North Discovery Series marketing campaign in 2015. Jo brings forward a vast skillset with direct industry experience having owned and successfully ran the Melvich Hotel for nearly 15 years. Jo has experience as a freelance writer creating content for blogs, social media, websites and much more. Altogether, Jo’s experience and knowledge brings a strong asset to the Venture North team.

Kerry Speirs
Kerry joined the Board in 2018.  She currently works for Norse Stone Ltd as their Marketing and Design Executive.  Kerry brings a wide range of skills to the organisation and whilst she is not involved in the tourism industry, she has experience of running her own business, having operated a craft business Tartan at Heartbefore moving to Norse Stone.  Kerry brings key skills of marketing, design, communication and PR to the organisation.

Scott Morrison

As Managing Director of Dunrobin Castle, Scott has great experience in the tourism sector having worked there for 25 years. Throughout his career, he has been a part of many tourism-marketing groups that have helped encourage and build the tourism offer of Sutherland and Caithness. Scott is passionate about bringing Caithness and Sutherland to front of the line when visitors and tour operators are looking to plan holidays in the Far North. Scott’s wealth of experience is invaluable in supporting Venture North to create a sustainable and extended tourism offer.

Shirley Farquhar
Shirley joined the Venture North Board in 2019.  She is the Managing Director of the Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust, which runs the Castle of Mey and Gardens.  She brings a range of skills and industry knowledge to the organisation especially from a 5-star visitor attraction aspect and has insights into the wider UK and overseas tourism market, as well as working with royalty.

Tanya Sutherland
Tanya joined the Board in 2016 and has owned and run Thurso Bay Holidays, which offers high quality static caravan accommodation, since 2010, and recently adding a 3 bedroom self-catering flat in Thurso.  Tanya brings a wide range of skills and industry knowledge to the organisation and being a native of Caithness is very passionate about showcasing the area to visitors.  As a Trust Board member of Scrabster Harbour she has been instrumental in working with the Harbour Trust and Venture North to maximise the cruise ship market visiting the port.  She organises and leads Venture North volunteers to do a meet and greet service for cruise ship passengers visiting the town, signposting and providing information.

Trudy Morris
Trudy is Chief Executive of Caithness Chamber of Commerce and joined the Board in 2016.  Venture North and the Chamber operate reciprocal memberships.  Whilst Trudy does not work in the industry, she brings a wide range of other skills and knowledge to the organisation, such as operating a membership organisation, accessing funding, tender writing, working with a wide range of stakeholders (public and private), strategic planning, corporate governance and lobbying.

Press release from Jonathan James Perkins MCIPR

For further information, please email or call 07894 711 515