William Teacher, like many of the early Scottish whisky blenders, was a grocer, and started blending in 1832 in his wife’s grocery shop. He was a bit of a pioneer – had Teacher’s dram shops by the1850s where people could go in and have a glass of whisky. They weren’t rough pubs – they were upstanding and aimed to the middle class. In 1832, Highland Cream was launched, and it continues today, with stock from Ardmore Distillery being a significant component. The blend claims to be 45% single malt, which is a decent percentage for a blended whisky.
Nose: Heather, coal smoke, lots of honey (and strong, like manuka honey), with both the spiciness and slightly floral nature of black peppercorns, sultana raisins, brown sugar, pears, dark toffee, cinnamon and clove. At times, a touch of bitterness seems to come forward. The feel is both a bit sweet and a bit dry. All those flavours are mixed pretty well here – almost a bit like a slightly smoky fruitcake. Also, a bit of a nutty barrage – pralines, marzipan, honey- and nut-stuffed roasted apples..brilliant. At times, though, it’s a bit overwhelming with so much going on. 26.5/30 (88%)
Taste: Very nice feel and body to the mouth – seemingly light and yet quite mouth-filling. At this time we might see why it might be referred to as “cream”. After the nose, I’m surprised that the taste isn’t a giant mishmash of flavour – instead we have a light, citrusy lead in to a slightly honeyed malty middle, with touches of vanilla, before the smoke comes out on the finish, tingling with a few spices and some dark chocolate and a few grainy notes, and even some corn. Throughout, there’s a good bit of acidity which makes the mouth pucker up slightly, making me want to chew the whisky and keep drinking – making it seem fairly succulent. Quite nice! 27.5/30 (92%)
Finish: The smoke dies down fairly fast leaving a lingering malty note, with some ashy smoke, vanilla, cinnamon, green apple. A bit of feel of an artificial sweetener. Like the rest of the whisky, it’s slightly dry, and a bit sweet. A touch of oak also comes out after some time. 17.5/20 (88%)
Conclusion: I might wish for a touch more underlying sweetness (and I mean very slight, as I think the sweetness is almost right on, but ever so slightly short) – I think that would make this one better. Also it’s such a big mishmash of flavour that I don’t really know what to think – sometimes it’s too much for me. But, easy, and very nice to drink. And, as a bonus, quite a decent price for this – my go-to blended budget scotch. 17.5/20 (88%)