BURNTISLAND butcher Tom Courts has been crowned Scottish Haggis Champion 2019 – and declared the win 'the best moment' of his career.

Being declared the maker of Scotland's best haggis was 'The Holy Grail' of industry honours, said the popular Fife butcher, who reckoned that it was a title every butcher in the country coveted.

"It's the best moment of my career," said Mr Courts. "This is the big one. It's the competition everyone wants to win. It's absolutely brilliant to join that very exclusive club of Scottish Haggis Champions and I am thrilled to bits.

"In the Scottish food and drink sector people immediately think haggis and whisky," he explained. "I like to think I drink the best whisky and I now know I make the best haggis – it's official!"

Mr Courts' champion handmade haggis beat off stiff competition from over 70 butchers from all over Scotland, to lift the national title at the Scottish Meat Trade Fair in Perth, having reached the final via the East of Scotland regional title.

"One judge told me he knew it was a winner when he tasted it because he said he would be happy to eat it every day," said a delighted Tom.

Using a recipe created by his father, Tom revealed there have been 'a few tweaks' over the years to perfect the haggis that wowed the competition judges. But the exact winning recipe remains confidential.

"Haggis recipes are a closely guarded secret and there are only two of us who can make this one. Now that we've lifted the championship, the recipe will be even more carefully protected."

Tom's delight at winning the ultimate accolade was tempered, however, with the recent loss of his 22-year-old nephew Calum who worked in the business beside him and whose funeral was only a few days before the contest. "He would have been very proud," said Tom. "It's the one prize that has eluded me until now and I want to dedicate it to Calum. It was also an honour my Dad always wanted and he was the first I told of our success. He was absolutely thrilled that we finally made it."

Tom Courts Quality Foods will hold the Scottish Haggis Championship title for the next two years.

The reserve and West of Scotland champion were McCaskies, of Wemyss Bay, while in third place were the North of Scotland champions Fraser Brothers, of Dingwall.

The South East Scotland champion was John Saunderson, of Edinburgh, and the South West Scotland champions were Ballard Butchers, of Castle Douglas.