…That is one of the world’s great taste experiences… they are just unbelievably tasty.

Nick Nairn
Chef, restaurateur, author & presenter

…they are incomparable.

Jeremy Lee
Chef & food writer

…that’s as good as fish gets.

Neil Oliver
Archaeologist, historian, author & broadcaster

That is just beautiful. It is just perfect.

Kaye Adams
Presenter & columnist

I have never tasted Arbroath Smokie like that in my life. That is just sensational — you’re just in a different realm.

Rosemary Schrager
Chef, teacher, author & presenter

That fish is just fantastic. It doesn’t really get better than that.

Oliver Rowe
Chef, restaurateur & presenter

I am not a fan of the term ‘food hero’… if I was forced to choose one person to bear that burden it would be Iain R. Spink, the guardian of the Arbroath Smokie…

Simon Majumdar
Food writer, author & broadcaster

They were delicious…

Gordon Ramsay
Chef, restaurateur, author & presenter

It has a rich creaminess and moisture, and fresh like that is undoubtedly the best way to eat Smokies.

Martin Wishart
Food writer, author & columnist

…eye-opening, a revelation in taste and texture

Nigel Slater
Cook, food writer, author & presenter

That flavour was just so immense… A delight to eat your food… This man is creating a whole new culinary education.

Gary Rhodes
Chef, restaurateur, author & presenter

The moist warm flesh is divine. It is one of the best fish I have ever tasted.

Sue Lawrence
Food writer, author & columnist

Simply some of the most delicious fish I’ve ever had. Nice one, Iain.

Jamie Oliver
Chef, restaurateur, author & presenter

Arbroath Smokies from Iain R Spink
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Auchmithie And The ‘Arbroath Smokie’

The original ‘Arbroath Smokie’ hails from Auchmithie, a small fishing village, 3 miles north of Arbroath. The true origin of the village of Auchmithie is obscured by time, but there is evidence to suggest it may go back to the Viking raids of the early 11th century.

In Hay's ‘History of Arbroath’ (pub. 1895) page 6, chapter 2, he states “on the east coast of Forfarshire, the Norse galleys made occasional appearances, and it may be that the old colonies of fishers on the coast, such as those at Auchmithie near Arbroath, obviously of Scandinavian descent, were planted at this period.

In any event, the first known recording of the village was in the Chartulary Records of Arbroath Abbey in 1434. Although developed with both a rural and coastal culture, the powerful influences and rapid change seen over the last 150 years or so have been in its land ownership and the beneficent concern of surrounding landlords such as the family of Northesk. At the end of the 18th century the village supported some 180 souls and 6 fishing boats. By the end of the 19th Century the village was in it's heyday with a population of around 400, with 12 white fish boats, 6 large boats which followed the herring fishing, and 20 or so small boats engaged in lobster and crab fishing.

There are several theories put forward as to the true origin of the Arbroath Smokie. One of the most popular relates to a cottage in Auchmithie in which haddocks were hanging up to be dried for preservation purposes. Unfortunately a fire broke out and burned the house to the ground. It was then (reputedly), whilst sifting through the ashes, wood, dust and associated debris that the ‘smokies’ were discovered. It stretches the imagination somewhat to accept that having just seen their house destroyed, that the occupants (or anyone else) would be likely to pick up a dust-covered blackened fish, and eat it! This romanticised version of the smokie's origin is commonly heard around Arbroath's Fit o' the Toon, and the story probably holds as much water as the cremated fish in question!

Smoking Fish

The fishwives, smoking the fish on sticks, originally put them onto halved whisky barrels with fires underneath, and the smoke was trapped under layers of coarse sacking, provided by the jute mills in the local area. The world famous ‘Arbroath Smokie’ indeed follows a process which is typical of similar smoking processes carried out to this day in Scandinavia, and may itself provide yet another clue to the village’s origin and identity.

After the heyday of the late 19th century, the fisher people began to move to Arbroath, lured by the promise of better housing, better harbour, and overall better prospects promised by the Town Council of the time. They, with their skills and their labours, settled in the area of Arbroath known as the Fit o' the Toon, and became one of the greatest contributors to Arbroath's economy. Their ‘Arbroath Smokie,’ inadvertently created something which was to become the signature of Arbroath, and which perhaps more than any other single thing, made Arbroath a household word throughout the country and even overseas.

The Arbroath Smokie can perhaps thus be seen as the only remaining living legacy of Auchmithie’s fishing community, and one for which it gets little credit.

This history was compiled with much help from my father, R.R. Spink

A Few Of Our Awards

Award Winner

BBC Radio 4 Food Producer of the Year 2006

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Country Living/Sainsbury’s ‘Taste Of Britain’
Gold Award 2007

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Country Living/Waitrose ‘Made In Britain’ Award 2007

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Great Taste 3 Star Gold Award 2012

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UKTV ‘Local Food Hero’ Scottish Regional Winner
& 3rd in UK 2006

The Fraser Collection Gallery

 Fraser Collection Historical Photo Gallery

A stunning photographic record of life in Angus at the turn of the 20th Century.

This photo gallery contains just a small collection of prints, all relating to the history of Auchmithie and the 'Arbroath Smokie.'

Did You Know?

EC ‘Protected Geographical Status’ means only haddock smoked using traditional methods within a five-mile radius of Arbroath can use the name ‘Arbroath Smokie.’

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