Smoked salmon and whisky

So far it’s been a year of celebrations at the Scotch Whisky Experience, as we look back on 30 years since we opened our doors on Edinburgh’s Castlehill to help bring Scotch whisky to the world. As part of our celebrations, we’ll be taking a wee look at the incredible partnerships we’ve formed with Scottish producers and craftspeople, who all help us to create a truly Scottish experience for the 300,000+ visitors we receive here in Edinburgh each year. One of our longest-standing partners has been bringing whisky to the world in a different way, working with the industry to make clever use of used casks to impart those varied Scotch whisky flavours into their product. And 2018 just happens to be their anniversary too!

Smoked salmon canapes with Scotch whisky - Amber Restaurant, Edinburgh

If you’ve ever visited Amber Restaurant, you’ll know it’s one of the best restaurants in Edinburgh for Scottish food – fresh, delicious and authentic. The team at Amber Restaurant work with Scottish producers from across the country, one of which is Ritchie’s of Rothesay, producing oak-smoked salmon on the beautiful Isle of Bute.

The Isle of Bute (credit: Archie Brooksbank)

This year Ritchie’s of Rothesay are celebrating 130 years in business, and it is testament to the incredible flavours of their smoked salmon that they’ve kept the same recipe (a closely guarded family secret!) since starting up back in 1888. In their fledgling years (when the business was known as Barrs), their smoked kippers were a firm favourite on the breakfast menu of the Balmoral Hotel, and were even served to Queen Victoria.

Whisky oak chips used for smoking salmon (credit: Archie Brooksbank)

How is smoked salmon made?

To this day, the whole curing process is still done by hand. The fish is bought in Argyle, cured to Ritchie’s secret recipe for two days and two nights. Then the side of salmon is hung on tenterhooks and smoked on oak shavings from Scotch whisky casks on racks inside the 100-year-old tar-encrusted kiln. It is then left overnight in this sealed room, before being packaged up and sent out to specialist restaurants across the country.

Oak-smoked salmon, made using traditional methods (credit: Archie Brooksbank)

Tempted? At Amber Restaurant, you’ll find Ritchie’s smoked salmon across our menu, making the most of that gorgeous gently smokey flavour in our starters, main courses and Scottish tapas dishes.

Scottish smoked salmon is a great match with Scotch whisky - Amber Restaurant, Edinburgh

Whiskies that match perfectly with smoked salmon

We asked the Scotch Whisky Experience team for their recommendations of what Scotch whiskies would go with Scottish smoked salmon.

Old Pulteney 12

This classic maritime whisky has a gorgeous briney tang to it that will bring out the fresh flavours of the salmon.

Auchentoshan American Oak

Bourbon barrels give this whisky a spicy roundness with prominent notes of vanilla, perfectly complimenting the oaky flavours given to the salmon by the smoking process.

Inchgower 14 year old

A more unusual Speyside whisky with a light fruity characteristic and a coastal influence that compliments the saltiness of the salmon.

Ardmore Legacy

A mix of classic Highland characters (think flowers and honey) and a background of smoke make this peated Ardmore a good match for the sweetness of smoked salmon.

Isle of Skye

This blended Scotch whisky is light and sweet with just a whiff of smoke, allowing the prominent flavours of the salmon to come through beautifully on the palate.

Have you tried any of these matches? Or can you think of any other great whisky matches for smoked salmon? Let us know in the comments below!


3 thoughts on “Smoked salmon and whisky

  1. I just tried some Tesco’s finest smoked salmon accompanied by a small glass of Old Pultenay. I like both on their own very much but together the result was vile! I so wanted this to work and to be a taste sensation, but all that happened was that the whisky accentuated the oil in the fish, giving a result reminiscent of cod liver oil. Maybe a more expensive and drier cured smoked salmon would have worked. Perhaps I’ll try a peatier whisky too.

  2. I’m a Muslim. Does eating your smoked salmon, smoked over Oak chips, aged in whisky casks, leave any whisky in the actual smoked salmon? I’m guessing so but hoping not. Please let me know, thanks.

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