The origin of our present day business was a smokehouse named Fat Albert’s Smokehouse, located near Fairlie in the South Island’s Mackenzie Region. Keith and Alison Hatton had been the proud owners for years, but in 2018, they decided to pass the torch to a new generation of smoke enthusiasts. Enter Juliet and Alasdair McLeod, who initially thought they were just buying a fun little retirement project.
But as they delved deeper into the world of smoking, they quickly realised that this was more than just a hobby. So, they recruited their son Tom and his wife Jennifer to join in on the adventure and bought the business together. It was a family affair, with Alasdair, Juliet and Jennifer taking turns living in a house bus in Fairlie while they learned the ropes from Keith.
Alasdair had been smoking fish as a hobby for most of his life, but Jennifer was a complete newbie. Undeterred, she jumped in head first and learned everything from scratch. By the end of August, we had built a new smokehouse at our current location north of Geraldine and moved all the equipment in from Fairlie. With a hot smoker and a cold smoker, we were able to process over 100kgs of salmon per day, along with 2 chillers and a large vacuum packer.
At first, The Wee Smokehouse only offered hot and cold smoked salmon, but Jennifer’s creativity and passion for food soon led to the expansion of the product line. In collaboration with High Country Salmon, we have added new flavours including gravadlax, cold smoked beetroot salmon, gin-cured salmon, truffle cold smoked salmon, and a refined sugar-free honey & thyme hot smoked salmon. We are also offering hot smoked duck and hot smoked venison to our retail and wholesale customers.
Jennifer and Alasdair
As the business grew, Alasdair and Juliet stepped back from working in the smokehouse, but they still attend local farmer’s markets and fetes throughout Mid and South Canterbury. We’ve also brought on a full-time employee and two part-timers during the busier summer months.
The Wee Smokehouse has big plans for the future, including a third smoker and a larger smokehouse, as well as adding a few more smoked products to our already popular lineup.