The Scottish family business crowned as the best butchers shop in the UK
An 88-year-old family business on Scotland’s west coast has been voted the UK’s best butchers shop.
McCaskie’s Butchers and Café in Wymess Bay, Inverclyde, has been attracting foodies from all over the country for years, scooping multiple awards for its haggis, black pudding and dry cured bacon.
Beating off fierce competition from the very best butchers throughout Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland at this year’s Butcher Shop of the Year Competition, delighted co-owner Nigel Ovens said lifting the trophy was the proudest moment of his life.
“I’m still in shock,” he said.
"We were up against the most impressive butcher businesses in the land. To think our shop in Wemyss Bay could beat the best of the best in the UK is just amazing. I’m so proud of our entire team.”
The shop was opened by his grandfather Mearns McCaskie in 1935, and his mother and co-owner Elizabeth began working in the shop at the age of 19.
While celebrating the family’s triumph, the day was also filled with emotion as Mr Ovens, who dedicated the award to his parents, spoke about losing his father, Tom, three years ago.
"My father should have been here to see this,” he said.
"I'm dedicating this award to my mum and dad. Mum lives and breathes for McCaskie's and this is just reward for 60 years of devotion, hard work and leadership. She works tirelessly to deliver the very highest standards of products and service, inspiring the whole team in the process.”
He added: “My Grandfather Mearns T. McCaskie could only have dreamed of this honour when he launched the business in 1935.”
The business looked back at some of the highlights in its almost nine-decade long existence: McCaskie’s is the current Scottish National Champion for Black Pudding (an award it has won previously), it makes Scotland’s most awarded Haggis, and its unsmoked bacon won the Best Scotch product at the Scotland Food and Drink Excellence awards.
And in 2018, HRH Princess Anne opened McCaskie’s state-of-the-art small-batch production unit built behind the main shop.
The family business has also made headlines when it rejected the approaches of a major multiple retailers to stock various of its products, preferring to support the independent sector through its supply to a number of Scotland’s leading restaurants, hotels and specialist retailers.
Mr Ovens said McCaskie’s only uses 100 per cent Scottish meat: Scottish Aberdeen Angus beef, Scottish lamb from Bute and Scottish pork from Hawick.
"It’s all fresh and of the highest quality and that provenance has helped attract customers from all across Britain,” he said.
So where now for the UK’s butchers from Wemyss Bay?
“It has been a hard climb to the top, but it would be an easy fall down again, so we have to work at maintaining the standard that has made us the best in the UK,” said Mr Ovens.
“We must invest in developing our team and attracting and training new talent to the business – our future will be in their hands.”
Despite being a fairly unassuming town on the west coast known for its busy ferry terminal to Rothesay, the butcher shop award is the second accolade for Wemyss Bay in a matter of days after its railway station was voted the UK's most loved train station.
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