Experiencing Scotland: Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum

This Experiencing Scotland case study shares how one unique venue is recognizing its assets and telling stories about its heritage through its food and drink offering.

The Venue

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum is located at Stirling Castle and traces over 200 years of one of Scotland’s elite military regiments. Rich in military history, the museum galleries have a unique collection of material and offer the visitor an insight into both the history of the regiment and the wider military context.

Governed by a charitable Trust and with funding support from Museums Galleries Scotland, the museum is currently developing packages for corporate and private hospitality within the museum premises, including an exclusive ‘regimental’ dining offer. The museum recently signed up to receive 1-2-1 expert advice and business support from the Experiencing Scotland food and drink project, in order to review the proposed offer.

Rob Layden, CE Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum says: 

“The advice and support from Experiencing Scotland has provided us with a range of innovative and exciting ideas to help us capitalise on our unique military selling proposition. As a result we believe we’re now in a much stronger position to meet the exacting needs and high expectations of the discerning corporate market”.

Unique spaces call for creative catering ideas

The Museum has three distinct locations suitable for hospitality purposes: The Officer’s Dining Room, which, as a ‘hidden gem’ not generally open to visitors, could be used as a possible lunch/afternoon tea venue for travel trade/niche groups, or for small evening dinners; The Royal Dining Room, which can be ‘dressed’ with regimental silver to provide a unique venue for corporate and private clients; and the Colours Room, which is draped in the colours of the regiment and offers scope for day or evening presentations, talks by Museum staff and for standing drinks receptions prior to dining elsewhere in Castle/Museum.

A menu selector has been developed by the Museum’s contracted catering company and bespoke menus can also be developed on request. Menus are based on military themes (Officers’ Dining, the ‘Royal’ and the Balaklava Dinners). The planned corporate dining offer will reflect military traditions of ‘dining in’ and officers’ mess dining with features such as piping in of guests, traditional military toasts and entertainment. Argyll's Crest dinnerware and glassware, along with museum artefacts including regimental silver, will all add value to this distinctive product.

Tell unique stories via food, partnerships and provenance

Experiencing Scotland’s catering consultant Sandra Reid says: 

“Given the unique nature of the venue, there is huge scope to include menu items that deliver the regimental food story, such as the Balaklava and Royal Dinners where every feature from the invitation through music, toasts and food style will be reflective of formal military dining. The location of the Museum within Stirling Castle also allows the historic connections of Stirling and the Castle itself to be maximised as well as food history and food and farming traditions of the Stirling area.

“Where the produce used in particular dishes on the menu is Scottish or local, this should be highlighted in order to emphasise provenance to diners. Likewise, this provenance message should be carried through to marketing materials, which should reinforce the extent to which the Museum is supporting Scottish and local producers.

“The regimental theme also presents excellent product development opportunities. For example, innovative offers such as chefs’ tasting events could be developed around seasonal, military and provenance themes. Similarly, providing ‘added value’, such as private tours around the Castle, exhibition spaces and Museum areas, corporate gifts and talks from Museum, Historic Scotland or Regiment representatives, would be a great way of meeting the expectations of corporate event organisers, who are looking for unique and exclusive experiences for their clients.

“One route I strongly suggest the Museum takes is to develop food partnerships locally via the newly formed Stirling Tastes Good group and also the National Food Forum Network. Membership of these groups would provide a fantastic opportunity to network with producers in the locality and potentially source new suppliers who could add value to, or enhance, the existing menu offer.

“For example, Alva-based Harviestoun Brewery would offer an alternative, local beer product to those currently offered. Local partnerships of this nature would also provide scope for product development such as whisky and beer tastings or food/whisky/beer matching menus. These could be targeted to small groups of connoisseurs as a premium product and be priced accordingly.”

Tourism businesses can find out more about the one-to-one support available through Experiencing Scotland by telephoning 0845 607 8787 or emailing 

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Get ideas for developing your food and drink offering in our Food and Drink Guide.