1 July 2024

Explore Our Art Of Traditional Smoking Salmon

Kenmare Select Irish Smoked Salmon

At Quinlan’s Kenmare Select we are known for the uniquely artisan approach that we take to the entire process of smoking salmon from the selection of premium, fresh salmon right down to how we individually package each and every order that leaves our renowned smokehouse here at Renard Point in Co. Kerry.

Believe it or not, the start of the smoking process begins long before even a spark of fire is kindled!

Close up of fresh salmon

Our Master Smokers actually initiate the entire process by selecting only the freshest and highest quality salmon. Having a trained eye to spot the finest of salmon devoid of any blemishes or deficiencies is something that only comes from having years of experience at the premium end of the smoked salmon business.

Having carefully selected the freshest, first class salmon the fish are then carefully filleted and prepared for smoking. This includes each salmon undergoing a meticulous de-boning process which while time consuming, ensures the highest possible standards of quality and this is something we have built our reputation on.

Filleting fresh salmon at Kenmare Select Quinlan's Fish

The next stage of the process involves the salmon being thoroughly washed by hand in fresh water before then being “dry-salted”. This salting technique uses a unique combination of natural French sea salt and organic cane sugar. The salting process is carried out by hand with the side of salmon laid out flat on the salting table (which is lightly dusted with the salt combination).

Our experienced craftspeople know exactly the right amount to use per salmon, by gauging both the size and weight of the fish. This process of “curing” is a vital part of the process as it acts not only to entirely kill any bacteria from the salmon but is also an integral part of how our smoked salmon achieves its own authentic taste.

Salting the fresh salmon ahead of being smoked - Kenmare Select Quinlan's Fish Smokehouse

This part of the process also implements a natural preservative and thereby increases the shelf life of the salmon – little wonder then that our ancestors knew full well the major benefits of both salting and smoking food to extend their usability long before the age of elaborate fridge freezers!

The salmon sides will remain on the salting table for anything from 3 to 5 hours before then being carefully washed to remove the salt from each side allowing us to proudly boast that our Kenmare Select smoked salmon has one of the lowest salt contents of just 2.6% while our Quinlan’s smoked salmon also has one of the lowest salt contents at only 3%.

Washing the salted salmon in fresh water

After being washed in fresh water, the salmon sides are gently placed onto our drying racks on a trolley which is then placed into the kiln. But before the smoking begins, we insist on ensuring that each salmon side goes through the natural process of drying which allows moisture to evaporate from the fish – in most cases, this drying element will take up to 8 hours at a time.

Once the salmon has been deemed sufficiently dry by our Master Smokers, the fire is finally lit within the kiln and the actual smoking process can enter the initial stages. A small fire of kindlings is started but in order for the smoking aspect to come into play, oak wood shavings are skillfully placed on top of the fire to produce just the right amount of smoke.

At Kenmare Select we practice an “ultra-cold” smoke which allows the smoke to gently permeate the fish thereby balancing the oak flavor from the wood shavings of the fire with the extra freshness of the salmon.

Drying the fresh washed salmon fillets, ready to enter the smoking stage of the process.

We meticulously select oak wood shavings from specific suppliers as our smoking technique demands that a particular type of oak wood is used to complement the very specific method of ultra-cold smoking. The reason that we use oak wood to smoke with is because oak manages to really bring out the natural flavors of the salmon like no other wood smoke can.

Salmon fillets on trolley ready to enter the smokehouse at Kenmare Select Quinlan's Fish, Renard Point, Kerry

In fact, cold smoking has remained a distinguished and traditionally Irish technique in smoking salmon as heat is never directly applied to the fish. Instead, the salmon is cooked through gentle contact with the smoke and is normally smoked for between 10 to 14 hours, enough to deliver a faint smoky aroma and distinctly fresh taste that Kenmare Select is known for the world over.

Freshly smoked salmon just out of the smokehouse at Kenmare Select

When the smoking process has been completed, the now fully smoked salmon sides are carefully sliced and vacuum packed to ensure that the unique flavor and freshness is securely locked in so that it can arrive at your door in the freshest possible condition. It is worth noting that because of the unique process that our smoked salmon goes through with the salting, the smoking and then being vacuum packed, our products have a shelf life of 28 days when stored between 0°C and +3°C.


As you can see, our traditional technique certainly takes a lot of time but it unquestionably produces the very best possible taste. And because we only ever use freshly caught salmon, it means that the average time between the salmon alive at sea and finished product is usually less than a week making Quinlan’s Kenmare Select, the freshest tasting and highest quality Irish smoked salmon on the market.