Glenglassaugh Whisky Smoked Salmon

Wednesday 27 February 2019
Post in collaboration with Glenglassaugh Whisky and Sutherlands of Portsoy

Portsoy, a small fishing town on the north Aberdeenshire coast, is possibly best known for it's annual Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, it's ice cream shop and Glenglassaugh whisky distillery. Traditions hold strong in Portsoy with five generations of the Sutherland family smoking the finest salmon for over 110 years. In a neighbourly partnership, Glenglassaugh has paired with Sutherlands of Portsoy to create a luxury smoked salmon infused with Glenglassaugh Peated Torfa Single Malt Whisky. Smoky whisky and smoked salmon - the perfect Scottish pair.

The north coast of Aberdeenshire is not an area that I'm very familiar with. When travelling between Aberdeen and my folks on The Black Isle that corner gets missed out whilst driving the more direct route on the A96. Following on from my recent visit to Portsoy I have a feeling that I'm going to be making plans to explore more of what the Moray coast has to offer. I spent some wonderful childhood holidays at Findhorn, but Burghead, Lossiemouth, Buckie, Cullen, Portsoy and Banff I really don't know at all. I start to get onto more familiar ground once I reach Macduff (where my son participated in the Young Fish Pie Master competition at the marine aquarium) and Fraserburgh (where we've glamped in a Hobbit House and visited Kinnaird Head Lighthouse) however I'm now yearning for a Burghed to Banff adventure.

The reason for my trip was to learn about a local partnership which has resulted in whisky smoked salmon. Two of Scotland's iconic products brought together in one. Both smoky, both delicious and both with a strong and proud history. First stop was Portsoy harbour where Sutherlands have both their production facility and a small harbourside retail outlet. Alas we were pressed for time as I would have loved to have had the opportunity to wander around the quaint old 17th century harbour and take in the sights and sounds. I also spotted a rather interesting looking dolphin sculpture a nod to something else that the area is famed for - dolphin spotting in the Moray Firth. I'm definitely going to have to put Portsoy's Scottish Traditional Boat Festival in my diary for 2019.

After donning glamorous outfits of white coats, hairnets and shoe protectors we headed to see first hand the sides of salmon being smoked in the traditional time-honoured manner in the kilnhouse. In methods passed down through the same family for 5 generations and 110 years with no artificial chemicals or preservatives, the salmon is smoked over Glenglassaugh whisky barrel shavings. Prior to packaging it is further infused with Torfa Single Malt. This is Glenglassaughs only peated expression and was chosen to pair with the the smoked salmon because of its harmony of distinct coastal peat and striking spiced fruit flavours. The Glenglassaugh infused Sutherlands of Portsoy smoked salmon will be available to purchase from independent retailers and distributed to restaurants and hotels across the UK.

To sample the spoils of the coastal partnership we headed along the coast to The Bothy Bistro in Burghead which features the Glenglassaugh infused Sutherlands of Portsoy smoked salmon on it's menu. We kicked off proceedings with a starter of the smoked salmon and a dram of Torfa before moving on to a veritable feast of outstanding local produce cooked and presented with imagination and flair. The Bothy Bistro serves exactly the kind of food I love to eat and from the rather epic selection we were showcased from their menu I particularly enjoyed the monkfish scampi, chicken liver pate, crispy polenta and poutine. The recently refurbished surroundings offer breakfast, lunch, dinner and/or coffee cake and cocktails. They are doggy friendly and also run theme nights and events. I'd have quite happily signed up for one of their Tapas nights there and then. I was also thrilled to discover that in addition to the bistro the owners also own West Beach Caravan Park which includes a trio of Glamping Goods Wagons - Flukey, Guntac and Rock Coddie. I may just have found the ideal accommodation for my coveted Burghead to Banff road trip.

With full bellies and a warm whisky glow it was time to head back to the crescent beach of Sandend Bay and visit Glenglassaugh Distillery. Originally built in 1875 the distillery was closed in 1907 and mothballed for over twenty years with production reawakened in December 2008. The name Glenglassaugh means 'valley of the green grass' and the logo depicts a design of gannets, stills and barley all reflecting the surrounding coastal environment which has impacted. Like many distilleries the site was originally an illicit still and due to its seaside location provided ample opportunity for smuggling. Glenglassaugh is the only distillery to straddle the Highland/Speyside border with a coastal position, resulting in taste influence from all three locations. To fully sample its intriguing salty notes and seductive coastal charm we each poured ourselves a dram of rare cask release and headed to the beach to watch the sun set.

The three core products of Glenglassaugh are Revival, Evolution and Torfa with the names marking the rebirth and progression of the distillery.

Revival is the first expression released from Glenglassaugh distillery after it was mothballed for a period of more than 20 years. The Glenglassaugh Revival has been matured in a balanced and unusual mix of American bourbon cask, red wine European oak casks, and undergoes a final maturation in sherry casks. Revival is a medium to full bodied Highland single malt, with a seductive coastal charm.

Evolution is a distinctive whisky from a single variety oak cask style. This expression was matured in ex-Tennessee Whiskey casks, a harmonious combination of whisky and American oak, giving a unique character with great finesse. 

In addition to the traditional production Glenglassaugh also produce a very limited quantity of whisky using richly peated malted barley. Glenglassaugh Torfa, with its peaty nature, is a unique expression, and is quite different to the usual style of whisky produced in the Highlands. ‘Torfa’, referring to the Old Norse word for peat, has a brooding, smoky character.

I am by no means a whisky connoisseur however my personal favourite from the Glenglassaugh trilogy was Torfa. From the old Norse word for peat this is the smoky malt that is used in the neighbourly smoked salmon partnership and can be thought of as a footstep into the world of peaty whisky. 

  • Aroma: Vivid, sweet campfire smoke and sea air infuses citrus, apricot and ripe soft fruits gently warmed by hints of ginger and cracked black pepper.
  • Taste: An eloquent, sweet coastal peat smoke engulfs candied peel over melon, pineapple and apple.
  • Finish: A heady yet elegant harmony of distinct coastal peat and striking fruit favours

Glenglassaugh Master blender, Rachel Barrie said:
“As a complete distillation of its natural surroundings, it made perfect sense to pair with our neighbours Sutherlands of Portsoy traditional smoked salmon. Glenglassaugh Torfa unique smoky flavour is developed using traditional whisky making methods including ingredients of richly peated malted barley dried in the traditional way, over peat infused kilns. Infusing the salmon with Glenglassaugh richly peated Torfa balances perfectly with the hand-crafted traditional smoked salmon, both enhanced by the Moray Coast sea air, natural waters and traditional ingredients.”

Post Script...
As is my want,  I catalogued my smoked salmon and whisky journey along the Aberdeenshire Moray coast on social media. The one recurring theme from my followers was that I absolutely couldn't leave without having sampled Portsoy ice cream! Not wishing to let anyone down I took one for the team, diverted the schedule and enjoyed a second breakfast of a tub of Caramel Lotus Biscoff with Biscoff Hot Sauce. Suffice to say I regret nothing.

Disclosure - I attended a press trip as a guest of Glenglassaugh. This is not a paid post.
As always, all views expressed are my own.
Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me as a passionate Scottish Food Blogger to continue to share my Edible Food and Travel Adventures with you. I’m super choosy who I work with and promise to bring you only the cream of the crop.

No comments

Foodie Quine. Design by Mimi Hammill. Powered by Blogger.