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Scotland’s best shellfish: winners announced

1 November 2019, at 9:20am

The producers of Scotland’s finest oysters – both native and Pacific – and mussels were announced yesterday at the Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers’ annual conference in Oban.

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.

John Hamilton of Lochnell Native Oysters and Gerard MacDonald of Isle of Barra Oysters
John Hamilton of Lochnell Native Oysters and Gerard MacDonald of Isle of Barra Oysters

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.

It's a tough job, but... Ben Wright, Nicki Holmyard and Elaine Jamieson sample Scotland's finest native oysters
It's a tough job, but... Ben Wright, Nicki Holmyard and Elaine Jamieson sample Scotland's finest native oysters

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!