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Gold Medal for Blackface Mutton

For hunting stockings visit Wendy Kieth Designs.  A  great selection. 

We have been approved by Valentine Warner“I am a big fan of Blackface, overall their meat is excellent & they certainly are experts at handling game. I often call on them for the stranger birds, such as snipe & wild ducks, great company, very helpful.”  Photo of Val Warner by Jake GavinVal Warner

Link to an Italian site acclaiming our produce link  

2011 - July,  Gold Great Taste Award.

We sent two of our Pheasants stuffed with Blackface Haggis to the Guild of Fine Foods in May.  At the beginning of July we were overjoyed to find out that we had won a star.  Before gold is awarded, a minimum of eight experts, often 16 taste, discuss and agree. 1 star = "Close to Perfect

2011 - May, we have been commended for the Iron Age pork by Spear's Design for Living Award Palate Pleaser
"For an artisan foodmaker who delights our palate"

2011 - April, we have been short-listed for the Scottish Food and Drink Excellence Awards for our pheasant stuffed with haggis.


2010 3-Star Gold Great Taste Award.

Great Taste Award 2010We sent two of our sirloin steaks to the Guild of Fine Foods in May.  At the beginning of July we were overjoyed to find out that we had won an outstanding 3 stars.  This level of award is only given occasionally to the very best products.  For 2010, over 6000 products were judged over an intense two-month period. The Awards’ organiser, the Guild of Fine Food constantly refines the judging mechanics and this year was no exception. Before gold is awarded, a minimum of eight experts, often 16 taste, discuss and agree. For two- or three-stars, up to 20 judges must unanimously agree an entry has achieved absolute perfection. Over 350 experts including key buyers, retailers, chefs and food writers blind tasted entries to ensure they are fairly and independently assessed. Every entry starts with 25 points and marks are deducted when faults are identified and constructive feedback offers suggestions to the producers how entries could be improved.

1 star = "Close to Perfect"; 2 stars = "Faultless"; 3 stars = "Wow, You Must Taste This".

2009 Scottish Countyside Alliance Awards. 

We won!  Best Local Food Award.  Thanks to all who nominated us.Ben Weatherall

The Blackface Meat Company has won the prestigious Best Local Food Award at the Scottish Countryside Alliance Awards which were presented at the Scottish Parliament (Tuesday 8th December). Other businesses from around rural Scotland were also presented with winner and highly commended awards which mark high standards of excellence.
Entrants for the awards are nominated by the public and judged by a panel of experts who visited the companies and individuals shortlisted for the categories. The other winners and highly commended businesses are:
Best Local Food
Winner: The Blackface Meat Company, Dumfries
Highly Commended: Taste of Arran, Arran
Best Rural Enterprise
Winner: Machars Movies, Wigtownshire
Joint Highly Commended: WG Young, Overton Farm, Lanarkshire;
Point and Sandwick Development Trust, Lewis
Best Traditional Business
Winner: Amayzing Saddlery (correct), Renfrewshire
Highly Commended: Kays of Scotland Ltd, Ayrshire
Best Village Shop/Post Office
Winner: Glenbarr Stores, Kintyre
Highly Commended: The Ancrum Pantry, Roxburghshire
Each year the awards attract an increasing number of nominations and this trend has continued. Each of the categories highlights important elements of community life in rural Scotland.

Mr Ben Weatherall, Managing Director, said: “We are delighted to have won this award. We believe passionately in the link between a healthy landscape and the highest quality meat. The two are so closely bound that the flavour of our products is of the land itself. This award proves that we are right in our approach and we will push on for further success.”
Mr John Lamont, MSP for Roxburgh & Berwickshire presented the awards. He said: “These awards recognise the hard work and innovation of businesses and organisations which are vital to rural Scotland. The Blackface Meat Company is to be congratulated on its success against tough competition.”
Ross Montague, director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, said: “The judging was extremely difficult but that is a good sign that Scotland’s countryside has a range of thriving and imaginative businesses, created by hard working people.
"The Blackface Meat Company deserves this recognition. They are proving successful with their dedicated and innovative approach to producing local food, particularly their promotion of hill lamb and mutton. Their work will no doubt give a much needed boost to Scotland's hill sheep producers. They are a superb example of a top rural business and a credit to the Scottish countryside.”

Ben Weatherall's Blackface Mutton is the Gold Medal winner in the Daily Telegraph 'Taste of Britain' awards. The Blackface Mutton won the award in the 'Best Seasonal Product' category.

Blackface mutton

Photograph taken by Jason Lowe

'The fates smiled on Ben Weatherall when, just one day before the final judging of Taste of Britain 2005, the Prince of Wales and a band of celebrity chefs launched the Mutton Renaissance Club with a mutton feast at the Ritz. Weatherall keeps 800 Scottish Blackface ewes on 6,000 acres of heather hillside and 1,500 acres of valley grazing near Dumfries, southwest Scotland, and he was already fully aware of the superior flavour and texture of mutton. But he is delighted at the meat's renewed popularity, and hopes both the club's efforts and his own gold award will help raise public awareness of this much-maligned dish.

Actually the five-year-old mutton entered by Weatherall's company, Weatherall Foods, had no need for royal endorsement, since the Taste of Britain judges voted it a clear winner on its own merits. Mutton has always remained a favourite with shepherds for their own consumption, but Weatherall was only able to start producing it commercially a few years ago, when chefs at London such as the Ivy and Paternoster Chophouse started asking for it.

Mutton means any sheep over a year old, as distinct from lamb which is born in spring and killed the same autumn or late winter. The firm started with two-year-old wethers (castrated rams), which were such as success that the chefs demanded something more mature. So Weatherall sent them mutton from five-year-old "cast" ewes (nearing the end of their lamb-bearing life), which he says tastes even better, especially when hung for a fortnight.

"With mutton you've got a much bigger, fleshier, stronger-tasting animal," says Weatherall. "Historically, cast ewes would have been a staple diet. Obviously because mutton is older you can't flash-fry it like a lamb chop, you've got to cook it slowly." Two to three hours' casseroling is enough, he says, although he prefers a very slow roast (see below).

Blackface muttonScottish Blackface sheep are bred to survive on open hillsides, where they are "hefted": kept in small flocks on the same area of ground, where they learn the best places to find food and shelter from the elements, and pass this knowledge down the generations. Contrary to popular belief, sheep are not stupid, says Weatherall; they wouldn't survive in this environment if they were.

An active life on the hills makes a sheep fit and gives its meat good muscle tone, and Weatherall believes the heather diet definitely enhances the flavour. But the hill farm has been over grazed, so currently he is bringing the sheep down to grass in the winter to allow the heather to regenerate, and to create more habitat for ground-nesting birds such as grouse, curlew, snipe, oystercatchers and golden plover.

Weatherall already has a share in a game wholesaling business, Yorkshire Game, and has been selling direct via his website since 2001, which now accounts for half his sales. Now he hopes to diversify further. "I'd like to develop the business and start selling other breeders' meat, so we can help the Scottish Blackface breed as a whole." Written by Paul Bray, Daily Telegraph

Award winning recipe - Here is the recipe that Oliver Webb, the Sainsbury’s in-house chef used to help us win the award:
Ingredients: 1 leg of Blackface Mutton, cover in seasoned flour then sear in a hot pan. Place in a deep casserole dish with 2 onions, 2 carrots, 2 sticks celery, 1 whole bulb of garlic, 1 bayleaf, 10-15 dried juniper berries, 1 tbs whole pepper corns, 4 sprigs of rosemary
Cover with 3 cups of beef or lamb stock, 2 cups of red wine, 1 cup orange juice
Cover and cook at 180c for 5 hours, ensuring that the liquid is simmering gently.

Best 50 British Foods'Best 50 British Foods' was rated 15 in the recent Independent Newspaper's top 50 British Foods.

Buy Scottish Blackface Mutton

“Thanks again for the mutton, I think it’s the best we have had in, it develops real depth of flavour, still has sweetness, & has just the right covering of fat but no overpowering lanolin taste. Outstanding.”
Peter Weeden, Head Chef, Paternoster Chophouse, London







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