The keenly contested competition took place as the centrepiece of this year’s bivalve gathering and judges – Elaine Jamieson of Highlands and Island Enterprise, Nicki Holmyard of Offshore Shellfish, Ben Wright of the Wright Brothers, and the editor of The Fish Site – were fortunate enough to be faced with some impressive produce in the taste-off.
After much deliberation and some palate-cleansing cabernet sauvignon, the prize for the best Crassostrea gigas went to Isle of Barra Oysters, for the second year in a row, after the company, which produces 10,000 oysters a week in the Outer Hebrides, beat off stiff competition from four other growers.
The Ostrea edulis category proved equally tight, with all three entrants – Lochnell Native Oysters, Caledonian Oysters and Loch Ryan Oysters – getting heaped with praise by the judges for their exceptional and unique flavours. However, Lochnell Native Oysters, which is run by John Hamilton, was eventually declared a worthy winner.
Finally a trio of mussel producers vied for the last category, which was won by Inverlussa Mussels, who’s founder, Douglas Wilson, collected the prize for second year in a row.
Reflecting on the quality of the shellfish Nicki Holmyard said: “There were no easy choices this year, with all entrants extremely worthy of a place at the top table. All the judges were highly impressed by the standard of shellfish – the Scottish sector should be incredibly proud of the range and quality of its mussels and oysters. I look forward to taking part in this event next year – it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!