Supplier feature - John Gilmour Butchers

Farms and Suppliers 9th Aug 2021

Supplier Feature

1. Tell us a bit about John Gilmour Butchers

John Gilmour Butchers began just after the Second World War when William Gilmour, in 1946, returned from flying with the RAF during wartime service. He was joined by his brother John in the High Street butchers shop in Prestonpans that had been owned by Bob Greig.

Bob was a complete master butcher, who had a small abattoir down the lane from the old shop which had been a butchers shop for over 100 years prior. A different method for a different time. During the emergence of the 'Super Market’ and the obvious pressure exerted on the High Street butcher, John Gilmour decided to purchase a small, second hand delivery van and began delivering meat directly to hotels and restaurants.

We have come a long way as a business since then and now operate from our ECC approved factory based in East Lothian, just a few miles from our original shop in Prestonpans. This has resulted in the business becoming more focused on becoming a catering butcher and evolving in to what many people believe to be Scotland’s premier catering butcher.

East Lothian is often referred to as the “garden of Scotland” due to the rich arable farming land that makes up the county, it also has some of the best cattle producing farms in the world, that we often buy from. We are now a third-generation family business, using the skills and experience built up over almost 70 years of trading. We still have the passion to supply our customers with amazing British meat.

This is exactly the reason why we supply many of the finest hotels and restaurants in the UK (and now the general public through our website).

2. How do you make sure the red meat you source is the best quality possible?

Our beef is selected from small-batch, sustainable farms who grass feed the animals throughout the summer and use silage (a type of natural grass fodder) in winter. This natural process means our products are as environmentally friendly as possible and the animals are kept on their natural diet, improving the welfare and the end product.

This process also has the added benefit of creating a ‘carbon sink’, absorbing more carbon than the process releases, allowing us to enjoy these products and create a truly world class industry. By grass feeding the animal, we add marbling slowly and carefully which enhances the flavour. Some butchers will use grain fed cattle; this often leads to an unbalanced steak with too much fat on one side and not enough on the other.

Grass fed is the natural and best way to rear cattle. We know how to take the world class product that our farmers produce and age it, package it and deliver it in a way that enhances the product and does not detract. All our beef and lamb cuts are dry aged in our specialist state-of-the-art ageing chambers.

This slowly reduces unwanted moisture content in the meat, focusing and enhancing the mouth-watering flavours. This also allows the meat to tenderise, making it even more delicious. By doing this, we pay homage to the farmers who have given us this wonderful product.

The worst thing we could do is to rush this final crucial stage, and this is where we stand out from many of

our competitors.  Like a fine whisky, wine or cheese, our products are given the time to become the best they can be, and the only rush will be to get it onto the grill or the BBQ.

3. Tell us a bit about the relationships you have with the farmers/suppliers you work with.

At Gilmour Butchers, we pride ourselves on supporting Scottish farmers. We see them as our partners in our mission to supply the public with the best sustainably farmed produce our great country has to offer.

We have been working with some of our farm partners for over 40 years and over three generations of our family, we have built a supply chain of outstanding quality. This is how we guarantee the red meat we procure and sell is out of the top few percent quality wise.

4. Why do you think it's important for customers to buy their meat from Scotch Butchers Club members?

John Gilmour believed that Scotch Beef and lamb was consistently the best in the world. Something we still believe today. We should all be incredibly proud of not only the very high quality end product, but also how we’ve got there. With some of the highest standards of husbandry (animal welfare) in the world, and sustainability throughout the process to boot.

Provenance is an incredibly important part of what we do at Gilmour butchers. Increasingly clients want to know what breed of cattle they’re serving, what farm the beast was raised on and even who the farmer was! This is information that we are delighted to share with our clients and on many occasions, our farm partners have turned up to their local restaurants to see their own name on the black board!

The members all strive to source the very best quality Scotch beef, lamb and pork year round. That’s why it’s important for customers to buy their meat from Scotch Butchers Club members.

5. What do you think is the most important thing to look for when choosing a good quality piece of meat?

We all have a slightly different preference when it comes to the cuts we like to eat and how we like the beef to look. IMF (intra muscular fat) or marbling is what we tend to look for as the most consistent way of appraising how any piece of prime cut will taste. Wether that’s ribeye or Sirloin.

A cut that is becoming tremendously popular just now is the Denver steak which comes from the chuck primal. It's incredibly beefy and rich tasting, well worth a try and a great alternative to ribeye which is hugely expensive just now.

Check out John Gilmours website at: