A CHEESEMONGER at the centre of Haddington has been recognised by Scotland’s national tourism organisation.

The Cheese Lady, who originally opened on the town’s High Street in 2017 before making the move to nearby Court Street, has achieved four-star tourist shop status in VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance Scheme.

The premises, which stocks about 100 different farmhouse and artisan cheeses, as well as a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and condiments, has also opened a micro cafe.

The Cheese Lady achieved a Taste Our Best Award in recognition of its Scottish cheese platter.

VisitScotland’s Taste Our Best Award recognises businesses that use quality Scottish ingredients and fresh, seasonal and local produce.

'A force for good'

Neil Christison, VisitScotland regional director, offered his congratulations to the business.

He said: “This latest award comes at an exciting time for food and drink in East Lothian.

“The region is ideally positioned, with its rich natural larder and innovative products, to offer locals and visitors food and drink experiences to remember.

“Food and drink is an integral part of the visitor experience and we work closely with communities and businesses to promote the use of Scottish produce within the tourism industry and support businesses to deliver quality products and experiences.

“Tourism is a force for good. It creates jobs, sustains communities and contributes significantly to the economy.”

East Lothian is also set to be the location for a new food and drink innovation hub, with £40 million funding secured through the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, following on from the county becoming Scotland’s first Food & Drink Business Improvement District (BID) in 2016.

'Fantastic to have our hard work recognised'

Svetlana Kukharchuk, owner of The Cheese Lady, was delighted with the success.

She said: “This recognition from VisitScotland will help promote our quality offering to locals and visitors to East Lothian.

“We moved to our new larger premises one year ago so it is fantastic to have our hard work recognised in this way and we look forward to continuing to develop our products in the future.”

VisitScotland has refreshed its Quality Assurance Scheme in an attempt to continue to provide an impartial source of information for both visitors and the businesses taking part.

The tourism group has recently undertaken a pilot programme of visits to test the new procedures, health and safety protocols, and risk assessments introduced since the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is a key first step towards the return of in-person grading visits for all members, which is expected to resume later this year.

Elaine Carmichael, on behalf of Visit East Lothian, offered her congratulations to The Cheese Lady.

She said: “We know that our fantastic food and drink businesses are a big draw for tourists visiting East Lothian – and a huge bonus for those of us lucky enough to live here!

“I hope this award helps The Cheese Lady business to keep on growing and innovating.

“Visit East Lothian encourages all of our local businesses to seek accreditation and awards via VisitScotland schemes, as it helps to put them and East Lothian firmly on the tourism map – and assures customers that they’re indulging in a quality product or service.”