Taste Test: Biscuits
Duchy Original’s Sweet Oaten and Heather Honey •
12 biscuits (150g) for £1.99
With the Duchy crest stamp there’s an refined elegance to this one, though whether it’s more than an upmarket digestive is open to question. As with a number of Duchy biscuits, it’s actually made by Walkers up in Speyside. The flavour of heather honey is apparent and a little disconcerting. A fairly soft biscuit and quite dry – overall it’s a bit so-what.
Island Bakery Organics’ Oat Crumblies ••••
12 biscuits (150g) for £1.80
Definitely in the posh biscuit league, even though it’s really just an oat biscuit that’s a bit flasher than a flapjack. It has a rich, golden colour and that knobbly, home-baked appearance. Soft and light to eat, with all the benefits that oats offer to taste and texture, the sweetness is of a honey-treacley nature rather than the brash sweetness found in cheaper biscuits.
Shortbread House of Edinburgh’s Handmade Shortbread, Original Recipe ••••
10 biscuits (200g) for £3.65
Shortbread has to be in consideration because of its associations with afternoon high tea. There’s any amount of shortbread out there but it remains one of those things that is never as good as when it’s made at home. These are both brittle and buttery, with a slight lemony tang. Still, at this price, restraint is required.
McVitie’s Rich Tea Lights ••
36 biscuits (300g) for 80p
The website nicecupofteaandasitdown .com (yes, it exists) maintains that the Rich Tea stands for ‘humility’. Others call it boring. With less sugar than the others, it’s really about the flaky, crispy texture, though it does ball up in the mouth. McVitie’s sells an anemic looking ‘Light’ version which has marginally less fat, though marginally more sugar – that’s modern food marketing for you.
Simmers Abernethy •••
32 biscuits (400g) for £1.05
Made by Nairn’s in Edinburgh, these are a bit of a cult favourite, though that might be because of affectionate nostalgia for tea at your gran’s. Simple and unadorned to look at, they have a shortbready flavour and a lingering buttery aftertaste. According to the traditional recipe, Dr Abernethy added a little caraway seed, though there’s little sign of that enhancement in the factory-made version.
McVitie’s Hobnobs •••
22 biscuits (300g) for 88p
Although the chocolate-covered version tends to be held in greater veneration, we kept chocolate out of this taste test. Hobnobs rely on the reliable appeal of sweet oats as there’s no butter in the recipe. Golden brown in colour, they’re fairly coarse in texture with a crystalized crunch. A cheeky indulgence for a nice cup of char rather than anything more refined.