We’ve joined forces with the talented folks at Bill Baber to highlight even more businesses who are designing and creating in Scotland, just like us! This is part of our Meet the Maker blog series. This month’s spotlight is on Great Glen Charcuterie, who make ethically sourced venison salami, chorizo, pepperoni, bresaola and more delicious smoked foods. Anja and her family live close to Fort William, in the Scottish Highlands. She chatted with India from J Boult Designs about her inspiration, what running a small business in the Highlands is like and her favourite foods.
We moved to Scotland in 2000 when Jan Jacob, my husband, was offered a job as an estate manager. We had been dreaming of moving away from the busy Netherlands but with 3 small children it hadn’t happened yet. We then met this Dutch man who had just bought a Scottish Country Estate and needed someone to look after it. He asked Jan Jacob if he wanted to work for him and he immediately said yes! There was a house available and a job so it was the perfect opportunity for us. The girls were still very small so the perfect age for them to move, we found tenants for our home and left within a few months. We kept our house in the Netherlands for a few years just in case we wanted to come back but we never did.
Part of Jan Jacob’s job was the management of the wild deer population and we fell in love with the delicious meat. The price of venison was very low at that time, the meat was not as mainstream as it is now. Not many people were eating venison and we wanted to add value and increase the shelf life so we could sell the products further afield. Always full of new ideas, Jan Jacob soon started to experiment with the venison and built a wooden box in the garden to smoke the meat. A friend owned an old derelict Butchershop in Roy Bridge and we managed to get the lease. The building had been empty for many years and after kitting it out into a state of the art processing unit we started trading in 2003. The first years he ran the business in the evenings alongside his job on the estate , our family grew with 3 more boys which kept me busy. When our youngest started school in 2010 we both committed full time and Great Glen Charcuterie really grew then. We supply independent retailers such as farm shops, food halls and delicatessens across the UK and sell to restaurants too. We now produce a range of charcuterie such as salami, chorizo, pepperoni, bresaola most of them made with Scottish Wild Venison but have branched out to pork charcuterie now too.
We have always loved good food and love to grow our own vegetables and cook from scratch and fill our cellar and freezer with goods to last us through the winter. As a young boy Jan Jacob loved the dried sausages his mum bought from the local butchers. There is a tradition of making dried sausages in the Netherlands and we wanted to do this with venison too. It was a bit of a challenge as venison is a very lean meat and does not contain much fat, however Jan Jacob worked out a recipe in the end.
We source the deer from the surrounding estates in our area. We know the stalkers and estate workers who manage the wild deer population, this connection is very important to us.
The deer roam freely in the Scottish hills and feed on heather, wild plants and grass making venison a delicious healthy meat. It is low in fat, high in iron and a very sustainable meat source for the charcuterie products.
Because there are no natural predators anymore the wild deer population has to be managed to a sustainable level. If the deer would not be managed there will be too many for the area. They will eat small trees having a negative impact on the landscape and in a very cold winter many will starve to death if there is not enough food.
We believe eating wild meat is a sustainable option and can’t be compared to high intensive meat production.
We are most proud of our green Pepper Venison salami, we love eating it and it is our best seller. It has also picked up many awards over the years, it did get 3 gold stars a number of years at the Great Taste Awards, was in the TOP 50 foods and in 2019 won Best Game product at the British Charcuterie awards.
We are based just North of Fort William close to Ben Nevis. We love this area, we can walk into the hills from our garden and there are so many great rivers and lochs for swimming close by. We are also very close to the Nevis Range where our children have spent many happy days skiing.
Check out Great Glen Charcuterie and their fabulous wild meat products on their website: www.greatglencharcuterie.com/