Macbeth’s Butchers of Forres is a family-run business specialising in traditional native breeds, much of it from the family’s own Edinvale Farm in upland Moray. The business was founded in the mid-1970s by Michael and Susan Gibson, who bought Macbeth’s Butchers in the 1980s to directly market the beef from the farm. In 2015, son Jock and his wife Fiona took over the farm and Jock also manages Macbeth’s.

As a butcher, Jock’s first introduction to native breed mutton, was when he was asked to sell some Hebridean about eight years ago. He says: “We took six carcases and sold out in a couple of hours. We gradually increased the numbers, but the meat kept selling fast ” From Jock’s perspective, a key selling point for native breeds is their heritage. He says: “You have to look at them as niche but prestige breeds, and you have to think about how you market them because there is a price premium. It’s the story behind them that sells – the breed, its heritage, the concept of ‘terroir’.

” Jock was introduced to Orkney Boreray mutton by food writer Wendy Barrie. He says: “We have a long-standing relationship with Wendy and she made the introduction saying ‘I have a really strange one for you here’!

“When the first carcases arrived, our head butcher waxed lyrical about the conformation, marbling and texture and the feedback from customers was spectacular. In a butchery context, the carcase works well because it gives a good meat to bone ratio. Some traditional breeds can be more bone to meat, but the Borerays have quite fine bones, so you can get nice sized joints, lean shoulders and good chops. And then the flavour speaks for itself.”

Macbeth’s is a wholesale butcher, with 60 to 70% of sales going into the hospitality sector and around 20% being online sales although Covid saw a big shift to online. Describing the introduction of the Boreray mutton, he says: “Initially finding a market was relatively tricky , but as customers tried it, they started recommending it on to others. We started with small orders, and not many from chefs, but word is getting around and we now have forward orders for the next shipment from Jane.

“We are currently the sole supplier of Orkney Boreray mutton and feel very privileged to have those exclusive rights. That will – and should – change because as the network of flocks grows and production increases, we will need more salesmen to ensure that the market supports the breeders.”