Scottish distiller, salmon smoker form new partnership
A new collaboration between Scottish distillery Glenglassaugh (pronounced Glenglassa) and smoked salmon producer Sutherlands of Portsoy, has led to the creation of a luxury smoked salmon infused with Glenglassaugh Peated Torfa Single Malt Whisky.
The new product took several months to perfect, and is the result of extensive testing with a range of whiskies from the distillery, Sutherlands Managing Director Elaine Sutherland told SeafoodSource. The Sutherland family has been smoking salmon using traditional methods since the early 1900s and is one of the oldest producers in Scotland, she said.
“The rich peated flavor of Torfa compliments the unique flavor of our smoked salmon and we believe it will become a great addition to our range and a product to be enjoyed by discerning customers everywhere,” said managing director Elaine Sutherland.
She explained that salmon from selected farms is expertly prepared, salted, then cold-smoked in stainless steel kilns. Smoke is fed into the kilns from adjacent fireboxes, where oak shavings from whisky casks are burnt. No artificial chemicals or preservatives are used.
Once smoked, the salmon is infused with Torfa whisky, using a “trade secret” process.
According to Alan Stewart, whitefish procurement manager for Gourmets Choice, of which Sutherlands of Portsoy is a trading style and brand name, the company was already experienced at producing whisky-infused smoked salmon, and had been considering a tie-in with a distillery for some time.
“We were therefore delighted when Glenglassaugh approached us with a view to using one of their whiskies. We were given three different single malts to trial and our taste panel was unanimous in choosing Torfa for the new product,” Stewart told SeafoodSource.
Glenglassaugh’s Master blender Rachel Barrie agreed that it made perfect sense to pair up with their neighbors, Sutherlands of Portsoy, and that infusing the hand-crafted traditional salmon with Torfa whisky had created a perfectly balanced product.
“Torfa is made using traditional whisky making methods with ingredients that include richly peated malted barley dried over peat infused kilns. This gives the whisky its unique smoky flavor, and its peaty, phenolic nature is a unique expression, which is quite different to the usual style of whisky produced in the Highlands,” Barrie said.
The distillery, which stands on the Moray Firth in the northeast of Scotland, dates back to 1875, but was mothballed 100 years later, and lay silent and forgotten for over two decades. It was brought back to life and reopened in 2008 and has since created an award-winning range of boutique young whiskies, including the peated Torfa.
The perfected smoked salmon was ready in early December 2018 and has been delighting customers ever since. Increasing consumer demand for provenance and distinctive premium products, together with a strong social media campaign driven by Glenglassaugh, has ensured a steady stream of interest.
The product is currently available in independent retailers, restaurants, and hotels in the United Kingdom, but both companies intend that it will be available for export sale in the near future.
Whisky-flavored or infused smoked salmon is not a new idea, but is one that is growing in popularity. For example, John Ross Jr. produces a Balvenie whisky-infused smoked salmon and Loch Fyne have a Glengoyne whisky marinated smoked salmon.
Whisky is also a favorite ingredient with salmon smokers seeking to produce a “special” for the lucrative Christmas/holiday market. Several companies, including Inverawe Smokehouses, have successfully used the highly-peated Laphroaig single-malt whisky, made on the island of Islay, for such pairings. Major retailer Tesco also followed the trend, by including a smoked Scottish salmon with Laphroaig whisky in its Finest Christmas range, with the strapline “discovering wondrous festive tastes.”