IN the food industry, taste and presentation is everything. First we buy the sizzle, then hope the taste lives up to it. Paula and Alistair Gordon have both sewn up.
After taking on Sleepy Hollow smokehouse in 2007, they knew the smoked salmon product was good, but had bigger ideas about the sizzle.
Having come from a smokehouse background at Inverawe and Loch Fyne, Alistair had the skill to add more to the range – everything from smoked Scottish cheeses to smoked scallops and fish such as salmon, haddock – even hake. "It's a wonderful fish and it's sustainable again now," explains Paula, who had cooked on luxury super yachts before settling ashore.
A swift name change followed – Isle of Ewe Smokehouse was born – and the pair worked on production, completing their new lochside smokehouse and deli in 2010.
"We'd originally started the business in an old croft house in Mellon Charles, but we bought a small cottage on the shore of Loch Ewe to house our new smokehouse and small shop, the Smokehouse deli. People can now see into the slicing area to see how our products are produced."
Chipped whisky barrels, with their lovely tones of whisky – and often port – give flavour. Larch from Dundonnell sawmill, just up the coast, gives the fire length.
"We do Blairlaith cheddar from Highland Fine Cheese in Tain and small Glenmorangie brie – both very popular," says Paula.
However, it's the fish that cause the most hoo-ha. Especially the couple's hot smoked salmon which achieved a two-star gold at the Great Taste awards. No mean feat.
Testimonials from foodies such as Lady Claire MacDonald and Argyll's Kilberry Inn help up the ante, too. And ethically reared fish is also key to the couple's business ethos. "We use only Scottish fish – all from Scottish sea farms and all RSPCA freedom food. It's a good Scottish company with an excellent reputation."
With gorgeous packaging, a great location and prize-winning product, it seems the sizzle is sealed.
* See www.smokedbyewe.com for mail order options and gift ideas, or call 01445 731 304.