Having jotted down the tasting notes for these two drams of Teacher's a wee while ago, I now find myself with plenty of time to write them up as a blog post. In fact, with the news that distillery visitor centres across Scotland are closed for the foreseeable future, together with the cancellation of Spirit of Speyside, both March and April are now looking decidedly 'freed up'.
That wasn't a moan or a complaint; it's absolutely the right decision. I, myself, have cancelled tours or have had tour groups cancel in what is an unprecedented situation. So, although this isn't exactly a money earner, I've decided to write more whilst I have the time. You lucky things you!
First up is a comparison of two drams of Teacher's. Today's offering was part of a miniature set given to me by my mum for Christmas. Prior to this, I genuinely can't remember the last time I had a dram of Teacher's. Its counterpart of yesteryear was a sample given to me from a fellow member of the Edinburgh Whisky Group and dates from the 1980s.
Traditionally, the two celebrated malt components of the Teacher's blend have been Ardmore and Glendronach. The company of William Teacher, during the whisky boom of the late 19th century, realised how important it was to ensure their supply of malt whisky and, therefore, built Ardmore distillery in 1898. Glendronach, on the other hand, wasn't acquired by the company until 1960.
Teacher's later became part of Allied Domecq's portfolio of brands until 2005 when the company was acquired by Pernod Ricard. It was then sold off to Fortune Brands which later split to form two different companies, one of which was to become Beam Inc. This in turn was purchased by Suntory in 2014 and so Teacher's the brand is now in the hands of Beam Suntory.
Beam Suntory still owns Ardmore distillery but not Glendronach so I'd hazard a guess that the malts at the heart of this blend may well have changed:
Teacher's Highland Cream - NAS - 40%
Nose: not a huge amount of anything at first; after a while there's a hint of red apple followed by Toffee Pennies; there's vanilla ice cream and a spirity note in the background; hint of barley sugar sweets.
Palate: this has a thin but slightly oily texture; this gives a slight burning feeling on the roof of the mouth; there's a slight ashy note going into the finish which becomes a tad bitter by the end; a mix of barley sugar sweets, dark chocolate and runny honey.
Teacher's Royal Highland De Luxe - 12 years - 43%
Nose: an instant hit of sherry; pencil sharpenings follow; there's red apple in the background which develops into more of a toffee apple note; milk chocolate; the inevitable raisins and sultanas.
Palate: this has a thick, creamy, almost silky, texture; caramel chocolates; a hint of cinnamon; there's apple crumble and custard; hints of fresh ginger appear into the finish.
Overall, today's Teacher's was much better than I expected it to be and it also works well with ginger ale. Retailing at around the 18 quid mark, I can say I've paid a lot more for a lot worse. Having said that, it does state 'rich in peated malt' on the label but I guess 'rich' is relative. I picked up some ashy notes but peat? Nada here, I'm afraid. The Teacher's from the 80s was just a cracking old school blend and the perfect evening sipper. I'd say a much higher malt to grain ratio and the grain elements seemed older. The 80s dram wins it for me.
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