We never imagined that we would become Scotland’s leading charcuterie producer when we moved from the Netherlands to the Scottish Highlands in 2000. Jan Jacob had been offered a job on a Scottish Country estate and this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to move our growing family to live in the remote and beautiful countryside. Within weeks we had found tenants for our home in the Netherlands and we moved our three young daughters into a small cottage in the Scottish Highlands.
Part of Jan Jacob’s job was the management of the wild deer population and we fell in love with the delicious meat. The price of venison was very low at that time, the meat was not as mainstream as it is now. Not many people were eating venison and we wanted to add value and increase the shelf life so we could sell the products further afield. Always full of new ideas, Jan Jacob soon started to experiment with the venison and built a wooden box in the garden to smoke the meat.
As a young boy Jan Jacob loved the dried sausages his mum bought from the local butchers. There is a tradition of making dried sausages in the Netherlands and we wanted to do this with venison too. It was a bit of a challenge as venison is a very lean meat and does not contain much fat however Jan Jacob worked out a recipe in the end.
Sourcing the deer from the surrounding estates has always been very important for us. We know the stalkers and estate workers who manage the wild deer population. Because there are no natural predators anymore the wild deer population has to be managed to a sustainable level. The deer roam freely in the Scottish hills and feed on heather, wild plants and grass making venison a delicious healthy meat. It is low in fat, high in iron and a very sustainable meat source for the charcuterie products. We believe eating wild meat is a sustainable option and can’t be compared to high intensive meat production.
Over the years we developed new recipes and Jan Jacob is always trying to improve the products. Great Glen Charcuterie now sells a range of salamis, chorizos, bresaola and smoked venison to independent retailers across the country. The charcuterie is also used by chefs and is on the menu of the countries best restaurants.
In the early years of the company Jan Jacob was still employed on the Estate and the business was run part time but in 2010 he gave up the day job to concentrate full time on Great Glen Charcuterie. By that time our family had grown to six children and when the youngest started school Anja got involved full time and is now responsible for marketing and sales.
Living and working in the Scottish Highlands is very important for us and our family and we love spending time with our children in the countryside. Now the children are older they are more involved in the business with the older girls helping out at food festivals and tastings.