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Teachers Highland Cream

Robust Blend

0 788

@VictorReview by @Victor

25th Sep 2012


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

The reviewed sample is the last 125 ml of a bottle provided thanks to @MarsViolet.

Nose: lots of vanilla, very light smoke, a touch of peat, light citrus, well perfumed with carnation and rose. Very pleasant

Taste: the delivery starts sweet and peaty, with a nice malt underpinning, and then gathers a lot of citrus. I do taste the wheated "grain" whisky here, and as usual for me, I don't much like it in this sort of mix

Finish: concludes with a tongue-throbbing lemon-lime citrus crescendo on a huge bed of sweet peat. Quite a peat trip

Balance: very tasty stuff, if these are the flavours you are after. One gets a lot of whisky experience for the money with Teacher's Highland Cream

Comment about my own taste and about this and other blends: my scores here are for quality given the genre, and the mood to experience these particular flavours. For my own taste preferences, I'd like this a lot better if there were none of the wheated grain whisky character in it, and instead used "grain whisky" entirely made from 90+% ABV column-distilled corn and/or malted or unmalted barley, and/or oats. You Scots really ought to add some oat whiskies to your blends. They would improve them

As Scottish blended whiskies go, I like this one. All of you Connosr members who say that you think that Scottish blended whiskies are not less than, but merely different from, single malts: I will believe you when I see you giving the same grades to the blended whiskies that you give to the single malts in your reviews

Related Teachers reviews


systemdown commented

@Victor, do you grade Scotch blends differently to malts? And different again to bourbon and other whiskies? Reason I ask, is that your comment RE: Connosr members not rating blends as highly as malts got me thinking about my own scoring system which would almost always put blends at a disadvantage - namely that I haven't had the breadth of experience with blends to rate them on a different scale to malts, hence I end up reviewing all malts and blends against the same criteria (I know it's not right but some day hope to remedy this - perhaps in the meantime I could look at applying a "scaling" factor).

Since the major components of a review - Nose, Taste and Finish are intrinsically tied to depth of flavour, complexity and impact, and only a small portion in the traditional system allocated to Balance, most blends that I've scored end up suffering in points compared to malts.

I can see where you're coming from with that criticism and it may be valid when reviewers here, myself included, claim that blends can be every bit as good as malts - I just don't know how many of us can reliably rate blends since almost certainly they'd have to be rated on a different scale that by-and-large malt drinkers (such as myself) may (and do) find a difficult proposition.

I do applaud you however in rating a ubiquitous blended Scotch whisky such as Teacher's so highly without fear of reprisal [.. kidding!] (admittedly one of my favourites in my earlier Scotch whisky drinking days, pre-malts anyway). Cheers.

8 years ago 0

Victor commented

@systemdown, this is going to be a long reply. First, thank you for joining in the continuing discussion of comparing blends to malts and to other whiskies, using the same reviewing scale. I consider this a very difficult and tricky issue to approach. I do feel that it is for me anyway, quite difficult to compare on the same grading scale the very wide range of flavour profile whiskies available, and, in so doing, rate them fairly with RESPECT TO type, and at the same time, fairly ACROSS type. The truth for me is, generally speaking, that I do NOT like the TYPE of blended whiskies (not speaking of 'blended malts')as much as I like the TYPE of single malts. I also do not like the TYPE of new make as much as I like the TYPE of wood-matured whiskies. If I were to review based entirely on "within that whisky's type/style/genre" only, then the numbers would NOT accurately reflect my opinion of that same whisky across all types. (There are spirits that would merit a 90 score within new make only, that would have to be more like 80 or less evaluated against all whiskies)

So, when I do a review, I try to bridge the gap across-types and be fair on both an absolute pan-whisky comparison and also within-genre only. That requires a sort of raising or lowering the scores internally according to genre. A fudge factor, as it were. So, to try to be fair to Teacher's Highland Cream, which is a whisky which I very much like, but would also by genre be drawn to drink it less frequently than I would several other styles of whisky, I give it the grade for "when I am in the mood to enjoy these particular flavours".

I suppose that I would consider the only true way to approach this grading issue fairly would be either to: 1)give TWO different sets of scores based on whether it is considered according to type, or according to one's overall taste preferences, or 2)have the club-wide convention explicitly specify that reviews be made either according to type, or on an absolute scale of comparison of all types of whiskies.

The former would be possible but I doubt many reviewers would want to go to the trouble to do so, as with your own excellent multiple time-frame comparisons, which I love. Also many, perhaps the vast majority of our members, haven't had wide experience of some of these genres by which to compare according to and across type (eg rye, oat, new-make whiskies, or wheated bourbons). Also, most members seem to me to want to review on 'how much I liked the whisky' and not on whether it has merits which would appeal to others with different taste preferences.

So, on balance, for practical purposes, we are not ever likely to have within our large whisky club, Connosr, an agreement to expect the degree of detail on a systematic basis that would be required to go into all of these nuances of evaluation. This is a very laissez-faire club with respect to members reviewing as they choose. I repeatedly bring these issues up because I think that it is highly useful for members to have an awareness of the issues involved. I do not expect much to change.

So, @systemdown, my meticulous friend, if I were doing a dual inside genre-whole genre comparison review of Teacher's Highland Cream with one number, I would probably rate it at 90 for blended Scotch, and 82 among all whiskies.

8 years ago 0

systemdown commented

Thank you @Victor for that very thoughtful and thorough response.

I hadn't actually considered giving two sets of scores for a whisky by type/genre and across all whiskies, as my default position is always the latter (in order to be consistent in my own scoring - if I score Blend "A" at 80 points, and a Single Malt "B" at 75 points, it really does mean that according to my tastes, I would place "A" above "B" in the pantheon of all whiskies). I might even venture in future, for blends, to provide a "blend score" (if I can) in the body of the review whilst keeping the main score consistent with my other reviews.

I agree that it would not be possible, nor appropriate, to have all members conform to certain grading methods - it would really take away from what makes Connosr a relatively relaxed and informal place to "hang out" with other whisky drinkers as you allude to.

For the anoraks, geeks and perfectionists amongst us I definitely agree with you that it's useful to have an awareness of the issues surrounding attempts to objectify and standardise the inherently subjective and personal nature of whisky tasting/scoring. I think it's only natural to want to compare one's own experiences with others. This would not be an issue if scores weren't given but of course we all want to be able to say "I've had a 97/100 whisky" or be able to quickly rank our whiskies. Scoring provides an immediate bearing for all readers, even those who are not whisky drinkers at all (without going into details of why the 100 point system is flawed).

This over-simplification, whilst fulfilling 80% of the community (let's say) is simultaneously the thing that brings us together and pulls us apart. I don't know that there'll ever be a happy medium as long as we have such a diverse and open community with such varied experience and where we find ourselves in the depth and breadth of the whisky world.

If you're familiar with Ralfy's video reviews, he gives distinct Malt, Blend and other marks by category and does not attempt to maintain a single scale across all whiskies, which is wise. Similarly it would be great to have an option for reviews on Connosr to at least specify the type (if one is so inclined) so that consumers of reviews know whether we're scoring within genre or whole-genre - adding this extra layer, and making it optional (leaving the default at whole-genre scoring) would probably satisfy all and provide just enough context to make the score meaningful.

8 years ago 0

Victor commented

@systemdown, thank you for your excellent thoughtful reply. I believe that we understand one another very well with respect to the issues discussed. The sharing of useful information is central to the reasons for existence of a club like Connosr. The more precision, acute insight, and useful detail which we employ to clarify the observations about whisky which we make and share with our fellow Connosrs, the better. But our members will always be free to choose their own levels of depth and breadth through which they express their own personal whisky experiences.

8 years ago 0

sailorman commented

Hi Victor, by coincidence, I have just bought a bottle of Teachers this weekend and was seriously thinking about writing a review in defense of good Scottish blends. Well, after reading your observations, there is nothing more to be done. Teachers is almost chewy in the mouth and has a nice balance between sweetness and a whiff of smoke, even a little bit of earth. I seems the grains have rounded it up very well. No sharp edges. Curiously, Ardmore is still a kind of hidden distillery. Teachers is popular in Brazil, and for about US$15.00 for the liter bottle, it is a real bargain. Cheers!

8 years ago 0

Victor commented

@sailorman, thank you for your kind words. Teachers is a very enjoyable drink, indeed. And we are big fans of Brasil in this household!

8 years ago 0

Donski commented

Because of this review I just got a bottle of teachers

8 years ago 0

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