Food and Drink

EU Protected Food Names Scheme - UK registered names

Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92 - Application for Registration Article 6/2

Protected Geographical IndicationProtected Geographical Indication
National application No: 05117 - Arbroath Smokie
1. Competent service of the Member State:

Name: United Kingdom - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Tel: 020 7238 6687

Fax: 020 7238 5728

2. Applicant group:

a) Name: The Arbroath Fish Processors Association

b) Address: The Grange Inverkeilor by Arbroath Angus DD11 4UU Scotland

c) Composition: Producer/processor

3. Type of product (see list in Annex VI):

Fresh fish, molluses, crustaceans and fish based products - class 1.7

4. Specification - Summary of requirement under Article 4(2)):
4.1) Name:

Arbroath Smokies

4.2) Description of Product:

Arbroath Smokies' is the name given to hot-smoked, headless and gutted whole haddock processed in Arbroath in accordance with the method of production set out below. In size, they weigh between 350-550 g and are sold in pairs as processed. In colour they are deep golden to mid brown externally, creamy white internally. In texture they are dry on the outside, moist and juicy on the inside with flesh which flakes and removes easily from the bone. They have a very pleasant, mild, fishy flavour with a light smoky taste and slight salt enhancement.

4.3) Geographical area:

A coastal corridor with an inland boundary eight kilometres radius from Arbroath Town House and extending to the community of West Mains in the north and the community of East Haven in the south.

4.4) Proof of origin:

The Arbroath Smokie, as it is now known, was first recognised in the small fishing village of Auchmithie, about three miles north of Arbroath in the county of Angus, Scotland. The village itself was first documented in the Chartulary records of the ancient Abbey of Arbroath in 1434 and its origins are thought to be Norse, from the period when Scandanavian invaders settled on the coast of Scotland about 1 000 years ago. This Scandanavian connection is relevant to the tradition of hot smoking fish, as it is known that hot smoking was a method used to preserve fish in Scandanavia at that time, carried with the invaders to the village.

How the Smokie came to Arbroath from Auchmithie is well documented. In 1705, the villagers of Auchmithie began to move south into Arbroath, accelerated by the efforts of Arbroath council to attract fishermen, to save the town's ailing fishing trade. Fishermen had previously lived under serfdom but by 1830, this practice was extinct and Auchmithie fishermen were free to move as they wished. Arbroath town council encouraged the fishermen and their families to the town by allocating proper sites to build the community. By the year 1920 the majority of the fisherpeople of Auchmithie were now in Arbroath occupying most of the harbour area.

With the advent of photography in the 19th Century actual visual records became available proving beyond doubt the existence and importance of the smoking industry to the Arbroath area. The fact that so many of the current producers can trace their roots back through earlier generations of their families to the origin of the Arbroath Smokie illustrates how the skills needed to carry out the smoking process have been passed down over the years.

The minimum inspection procedures require that:

(i) each producer is on a register of producers kept by the Arbroath Fish Processors Association and the nominated inspection body,

(ii) the raw materials (the haddock) is sourced from fishing vessels landing at officially designated Scottish fish markets. A written record of all purchases must be kept,

(iii) checks against this written information will be made by the nominated inspection body.

4.5) Method of production:

Once purchased the fish are headed by hand, gutted and cleaned before being layered in containers of dry salt to reduce the moisture, add flavour and harden the outer skin. Part way through the salting process, fish of equal size are paired and tied together by the tail. When salting is complete, the pairs of fish are washed and hung to dry. This process further hardens the skin and prevents splitting when exposed to the heat of the smoking fires.

The smoking pit ('the barrel') is then prepared. Hardwood blocks of beech or oak are placed at the bottom, ignited and allowed to burn off into a fierce blaze.

The smoking process has three stages:

(i) the fish are placed on their triangular rail over the barrel, and covered, which causes the flames to die down;

(ii) the heat causes the fish to release moisture which falls on the open fire creating high humidity. This heat and humidity completely cooks and colours the fish;

(iii) the fish are totally cooked in 45 to 60 minutes. Weather and the dryness of the wood do affect smoking times and the skill of the smoker is paramount in deciding how well the fish are smoking and when they are ready.

When the process is complete and the fish are cooked they are removed from the barrel still on their rails and allowed to cool. When cooled they are ready to eat.

4.6) Link

The characteristics of the Arbroath Smokie are linked to the geographical area on the basis of tradition, reputation, the smoking process (largely unchanged from the 19th century) and the skills of those involved in that process. Skills which have been passed down from generation to generation.

That tradition and the processes involved can be categorically proven and traced back to the late 19th century. At that time, of course, there existed no refrigeration equipment or ice making capability. Therefore, in order to keep and extend the shelf-life of their perishable products the choice was salting, drying, smoking or a combination of all of these.

In addition, at that time the fishing community lived in extreme poverty and within tight geographical constraints. It was their very survival which demanded they lived off the land and the sea, and sold whatever produce they could spare to augment their income. As time progressed local fishermen and their wives would travel to outlying areas to sell the fish so spreading the reputation of the Smokie beyond the immediate vicinity.

The smoking process is different from that used to produce kippers or the Finnan Haddock which are cold smoked and need further cooking. Arbroath Smokies are hot smoked as described above being subjected to a short blast of fairly intense heat and this means the smoking process has to be carefully judged requiring skills acquired over many years.

This truly traditional process is now universally associated with Arbroath and is one of the principal reasons for people to visit the town.

4.7) Inspection bodies:

Trading Standards Office - Environmental and Consumer Protection Department - Angus Council

Address: 12 Hill Terrace Arbroath Angus Scotland

The inspection body is an official public body conforming to the principles of the EN 45011 standard.

4.8) Labelling:

The approved PGI symbol will be used at point of sale, or on any packaging containing the product.

4.9) National requirements (if any):
EC No: UK/00227/02.02.21.

Page last modified: 7 August 2007
Page published: 31 March 2004

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs