Taste Test: Biscuits

  • The List
  • 23 July 2009
Taste Test: Biscuits

Clockwise from top left: Duchy Original’s, Island Bakery, House of Edinburgh Handmade Shortbread, Rich Tea, Simmers Abernethy, Hob Nob

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.

A Island Bakery Organics
Lephain/Dervaig Rd, Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Argyll and Bute, PA75 6PY
As they admit, Island Bakery Organics was an 'impulsive dream' for husband and wife team Joe and Dawn Reade. Joe's family have a diary, and a bakery seemed the natural companion to all that milk and cheese. Working up from their brother's garage to a…
B Shortbread House of Edinburgh Ltd
25 Tennant Street, Edinburgh, EH6 5NA
Shortbread House is a family-run business which was taken over by its current owners in 1989. It supplies a range of luxury shortbreads to the online, retail and catering markets in the UK and abroad. Shortbread House emphasises quality over quantity…
C Nairn's Oatcakes Ltd.
90 Peffermill Road, Edinburgh, EH16 5UU
Baking oatcakes since 1888, Nairn's use only wholegrain oats grown in the Scottish Borders (except for gluten-free products). They now make a range of oatcakes, oat biscuits, oaty bakes and gluten-free foods, all free of artificial colourings, flavours…