Shop is missing link in the search for perfect sausage

Elaine McKirdy who runs Linton Butchers, East Linton, with her husband John.
Elaine McKirdy who runs Linton Butchers, East Linton, with her husband John.
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As Scotland’s reigning beef sausage champions, Linton Butchers can proclaim themselves proud of their “local links”.

Sourcing most of their cattle from nearby Traprain Farm, just a few miles up the road, the shop is delighted to showcase East Lothian’s home-grown produce.

A visit to Linton Butchers is becoming more of a pilgrimage than a shopping trip for devout foodies across the Lothians.

The shop’s relatively remote rural location, in the historic village of East Linton, does little to deter those in search of a prize-winning pie or sausage.

Since taking over the business from John Anderson in 2013, owner John McKirdy and his wife Elaine have amassed no fewer than 17 awards – each bringing with it heightened interest in their products and more customers through their door.

Now 56, John started working as a butcher at the age of 14, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. After leaving the family business to tread his own path, he joined John Anderson in North Berwick, who later gave him the opportunity to buy the East Linton shop.

“In the beginning we kept things more or less the same, then we started introducing new lines and entering competitions,” says Elaine.

“We are always looking to introduce new products and we buy as much of our meat as we can locally. We have built up a really good name for our steaks, which also come from Traprain.”

At this time of year, John is building up to the barbecue season with a range of burgers, spare ribs and lamb koftas – not to mention his famous beef sausages, which stole the show at 2016/17 Scottish Federation of Meat Traders awards.

“We get people coming from all over East Lothian, Edinburgh and Borders. Customers often say they were out for a run and decided to pop in,” says Elaine, who has been allocated a corner of the shop for her own deli counter.

Keen supporters of the local gala and other community events, the couple also have a relaxed approach to opening hours, where their regulars are concerned. Elaine adds: “The boys are generally in anytime from 4am, so we always tell people if the lights are on just come in. We get people coming off their night shift and doing their shopping before they go to bed.”

Linton Butchers, 12-14 High St, East Linton EH40 3AB, 01620 860232. Opening hours: Mon-Fri, 7am to 5pm, Sat, 6.30am to 4.30pm.