Summer Isles Foods
About the Company
Established in 1977, on a croft in Achiltibuie near Ullapool, Summer Isles Foods is a small Smokehouse run by Keith and Sheila Dunbar producing an extensive range of smoked salmon and smoked fish products as well as offering delicatessen smoked meats, herring marinades and a wide range of Scottish cheeses for independent retailers and caterers at the top end of the market. Supermarkets are not supplied. In addition for private customers, a home delivery service is provided and a small retail shop operates at the Achiltibuie Smokehouse.
This little business provides ten to twelve jobs in this remote area and contributes significantly to the economic vitality of this community.
About the Smoking Process
Vital for good smoked products is the good quality of the raw materials and being located in the heart of the salmon producing region, Summer Isles Foods can pick from amongst the best available salmon and other fish.
Unlike most other smokers who simply dry salt their fish before smoking, a fairly harsh process, the Summer Isles technique involves marinading sides of salmon in brine-marinades spiced with molasses, juniper berries and black peppercorns. This unique recipe, unchanged for nearly thirty years, gives just a subtle hint of sweetness to the aftertaste.
After drying overnight the sides of salmon are loaded into the smoke kilns where they are cured with a gentle stream of fragrant cool smoke for a full twenty four hours. The smoke is produced from smoldering oak shavings, which originate from the cooperage at Craigellachie on Speyside, where they make whisky casks from matured oak. In many cases they refurbish sherry casks so the shavings used for firing the smoke kilns are of the very best quality and produce a wonderful, sweet-smelling, smoke which gently permeates the sides of salmon to give them a most appealing aroma and firm texture.
After twenty four hours in the smoke kilns the job is not yet done as it takes a further 3-5 days in the chill to allow the salt and smoke flavours to evenly balance out through the sides of salmon. Eventually it is ready for slicing and the small retail packs are produced with a high speed rotary knife but the sides of smoked salmon are hand-sliced in the traditional manner.
The result of all this is a range of smoked salmon and smoked fish products which discerning customers find to be quite distinctive. Do give them a try.