Smoked salmon: which is the best?

Aldi and Dunnes come out on top for smoked salmon taste and value

 

WHISKY GOLD SCOTTISH SMOKED SALMON

€8.80 for 200g, €44 per kg

There can’t be many retailers taking the business of Christmas as seriously as M&S and, by any measure we can think of, the fanciest party food and the most weirdly exotic platters are to be found pushing normal stock off the shelves this week. Even simple things like sausage rolls and prawn salad have been wildly tarted up. But even by its normally lavishly festive standards, this gold-encrusted (sort of) smoked salmon is something else. It has been “lightly smoked over oak whisky barrel chips, steeped in Old Pultney 12-year-old single-malt scotch” no less. It has a gorgeous texture and the smokiness is subtle but lingers on the palate. The gold effect is pleasingly decadent and could be something of a talking point at a party as long as you make sure to bring it up!

Verdict: The gold standard

Star rating: * * * *

UNION HALL SMOKED SALMON

€4.05 for 100g, €40.50 per kg

Union Hall in Cork has, for many years, been synonymous with good-quality, locally sourced fish so we were delighted to see a product branded with this name on the shelves of a Dublin supermarket. We were also delighted to learn that Union Hall is a family business run by some Nolans, not to be confused with some other Nolans who bring us a much more widely available and well-known brand. It has a pretty intense smokiness and a very moreish quality to it. It is farmed – but most smoked salmon is so we can’t really make too much of that. The slices were fairly thickly cut which might be a cause of dismay for some, although we liked it and pretty much everything about this product.

Verdict: Very good

Star rating: ****

ALDI WHISKEY SMOKED SALMON

€6.99 for 240g, €29.12 per kg

On many levels this is a great product. It has a lovely whiskey-infused smokiness and a great texture and will not be out of place at the most high-end of Christmas parties. We can find nothing to fault it in taste terms and it wins hands down when it comes to price, so if you’re in the market for smoked salmon you’d do well to get this. But we have a but. From the Irish flag in the right-hand corner to the prominence given to the Irish whiskey in the mix – it is mentioned twice on the front of the packaging – you’d be forgiven for thinking this was an entirely Irish product. It isn’t though. The salmon was farmed in Scotland and smoked in Co Clare. Now we have no problem with that but we’d hate to think the company was trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

Verdict: Brilliant but . . .

Star rating: * * * * *

DUNNES STORES SIMPLY BETTER SMOKED SALMON

€4.19 for 80g, €52.35 per kg

With its Simply Better range, Dunnes has been getting better and better in recent years and this salmon proves the point. It is excellent. It has a gorgeous saltiness to it, the texture was all but perfect and the oak and hickory smokiness really shines through. It also represents very good value for money. We only had to taste a small sliver for review purposes but we all but demolished the packet which is always a good sign.

Verdict: Excellent

Star rating: *****

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