Making your way on a wet day to Kinloch Rannoch, in the Scottish Highlands, brings to mind an old joke. “Has it always rained here?” a tourist asks a boy. “I don’t know,” he replies. “I’m only 13.”
You’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere in the UK, Europe even, that offers more rugged beauty than the countryside that surrounds this unspoilt village. It’s here that the Barclay family runs the Rannoch Smokery, situated on the family’s estate, a 5,500 acre area that takes in Rannoch Moor.
Legend has it that the Rannoch Smokery was born in the winter of 1986 when Leo Barclay was faced with a deer cull during a period of heavy snow. With the roads to market blocked, the inventive Scot filled the bath in the Barclays’ home with brine and cured the meat. Then he built a wooden box in the yard and started smoking it. The resulting product went down a storm with the locals, and before long a bit of fun started growing into a profitable sideline.
More than eight years later, and run by Leo’s son Richard, the company boasts a turnover of £1m and counts Sainsbury and Waitrose among its customers. All kinds of meats are cured and smoked to secret recipes in the factory, including the wild venison that led to the company’s creation.
Rannoch offers something other smokeries can’t, says Richard Barclay. “I like to say that we make the most traditional product possible using the most modern equipment available. Most high quality smokers are fairly small, but we have the capacity to supply larger clients.”
And having doubled that capacity in October, the company would appear perfectly placed to expand its customer base further.
Richard Clarke