By Rory Murphy
The diverse mix of the region’s stunning landscapes has provided a rich habitat for the naturally shy creatures that are known to favour rocky seashores.
This is in their infancy before moving on to forage in ancient oak woods and then taking to the open hillsides and high mountain tops in their prime.
And the good news for Helensburgh and West Dunbartonshire is that it is now on sale at the delicatessen counter in Lomond Shores at Balloch.
Experts believe that it is this unique mix of habitats that makes Haggis from Lochaber such a prized delicacy, in high demand year-round throughout the land. Indeed, the annual Highland Haggis Festival takes place in Lochaber in recognition of just how special and tasty the local Haggis is.
Elusive and hard-to-catch creatures, wild Haggis have traditionally only been hunted by expert stalkers in small numbers every January during Haggis Season.
However, all that is about to change as the newest member of Lochaber Chamber of Commerce, Hamish McSporran, is taking his finest Haggis to the next level with his newly-established ‘Outdoor Capital Free-Range Haggis Farm’, located at a remote location deep in the heart of the West Highlands.
Today’s date is really important, to appreciate the significance of the announcement.
Hamish said: “I always knew there was huge potential to introduce our wonderful Lochaber Haggis to a wider audience.
“However, it has taken me a few years of hard graft to perfect the techniques required to catch these unique animals in large enough numbers at exactly the right time, and to farm them in a sustainable way without affecting how they taste.
“I’m delighted to announce that my first free-range farmed ‘Outdoor Capital Haggis’ is every bit as good as wild, and they’re a heck of a lot easier to catch!”
Hamish went on to explain just what makes ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK Haggis’ among the best in the world: “Without giving away all my farming secrets, I believe the early days and weeks that the Haggis spend on the amazing west coast starts them off on their unique journey to flavour perfection.
“Then it’s the sheer hardiness of the Haggis running free across the mountains that gives it its prized full-bodied taste.
“’The Outdoor Capital Haggis’ roam free over a huge area around the Ben [Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain]. It can’t help but be the true ‘Chieftain o’ the Puddin Race’. Perfecting this unique taste for my farmed stock has taken lots of time and huge amounts of effort but I truly believe I have it.”
With his first herd ready for finishing, Hamish McSporran is excited to be working with Lochaber Larder as the sole producer of ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK Haggis’.
Hamish added: “Lochaber Larder is a great new company supplying fresh produce to the Lochaber area. Stewart McLachlan has lived here his whole life and is expert at preparing Haggis with a secret blend of spices to bring out their natural best.”
Frazer Coupland, CEO at Lochaber Chamber of Commerce, questioned Hamish on how he managed to get these normally solitary creatures to herd in the way that he does?
Hamish smiled and advised: “These fantastic creatures are not that different to the Scots: give them a wee dram in their last few feeds and they soon come together and are definitely a wee bit more passive.”
As a result, those with a discerning palate will appreciate the subtle hint of ‘The Dew of Ben Nevis’ whisky in the farmed ‘Outdoor Capital Haggis’!
Lomond Shores in Balloch where experts are selling Haggis with a secret blend of spices to bring out their natural best. Picture by Bill Heaney Top picture: a haggis hunter in the hills.