Borders butchers go for gold at sausage ceremony

Jedburgh butcher Allan Learmonth and staff celebrating being named national champions for their sliced beef sausage.
Jedburgh butcher Allan Learmonth and staff celebrating being named national champions for their sliced beef sausage.

Borders butchers hit the gold standard 11 times between them at an award ceremony for the country’s best speciality sausages.

Nine sets of sausages made by Hawick’s James Pringle and Grant Archibald were among the winners at this year’s Scottish Craft Butchers’ Awards, held at Carfraemill last week.

Hawick butchers Shaun Fairbairn and Matthew Bell, of Hutton's.

Hawick butchers Shaun Fairbairn and Matthew Bell, of Hutton's.

James, of Robert Pringle’s, in High Street, won three golds – for his beef, horseradish and tomato; pork and black pudding; and pork, honey and mustard bangers.

Grant, of Hutton’s, in Howegate, won golds for his breakfast banger and chilli chocolate sausages.

Both butchers submitted their speciality sausages for a grilling by experts at an evaluation event held at Our Kitchen to Yours at Newhouse, near Motherwell, last month, and the results were announced last week at a butchers’ regional meeting held at the Carfraemill Hotel.

The event, sponsored by Bristol-based Lucas Ingredients attracted more than 200 entries from sausage-makers all over Scotland.

James also won a silver prize for his pork, cola and lime sausages.

Grant also won three silvers for his pork and herb; haggis and cheese; and black pudding and apple sausages.

Jedburgh’s Allan Learmonth claimed a handful of accolades, three of them golds and two silvers.

The golds were for his Chinese-style piri-piri beef; beef and mustard; and pork and chestnut sausages, and the silvers were for his pork and haggis; and beef, bacon and cheese bangers.

Allan has also been named as Scotland’s champion sliced beef sausage maker and was presented with that award at his High Street shop on Monday.

“I source all my meat locally, and if you buy quality beef, you will make a quality product,” said Allan.

Piri-piri flavouring proved a winner for Coldstream’s GJ Sanderson too, earning a gold for its pork variation on the same theme, and its pork and haggis sausage went one better than Allan’s, claiming gold.

Another gold went to Foston’s Fine Meats in Duns for its pork, black pudding and spiced apple sausage.

Three silvers went to Shaw’s Fine Meats in Lauder for its pork and chive; pork and jalapeno and smoked pork hot dog sausages, and two went to JC Douglas in St Boswells for its Borders banger; and caramelised onion and black pepper sausage.

James, a fourth-generation butcher involved in the family business for over 20 years, is delighted about the latest accolades to come his way.

His latest achievements take his tally of gold sausage awards up to six.

His previous winners include a South African-style boerewors and a pork and cranberry sausage.

He said: “The seasoning I use goes back four generations, and I tweak the recipes myself.

“I’m delighted with the golds because these are core products of any good butcher’s.”

Grant admits it was initially a hard sell to persuade customers of the merits of his award-winning chilli chocolate sausages, but he is now glad he persisted.

“We handed out samples, and people liked them, and the judges obviously did too,” he said.

Grant, a butcher for 22 years, added: “The awards are recognition for our hard work. We like to use fresh ingredients and mix and match.

“We’re open to ideas. We’ll try anything, within reason.”