Friday, July 24, 2015

Walkers Biscuits, UK

Last year, when I visited my London office, I got a chance to try a bunch of snacks from the office microkitchen (in addition to racking up a few more Michelin stars at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon of course).  Some snacks were more successful than others.  There were horrible ones, like the bars from Nakd.  Slightly better were oat and fruit bars from Braw or cereal bars from Alpen Light.

Once I grew tired of the bars, it was time to move on to biscuits, or, as I know them, cookies.  I'm not really a fan of cookies, and packaged cookies in particular, but, well, sometimes I can't resist just trying everything.  I saw Walkers products everywhere, not just only in our office, but they had them in the airline lounge and on my British Airways flight.  So I figured they must be legit.

It turns out, Walkers is actually originally a Scottish company.  They've been around since 1898, baking their famous shortbread.  Things have grown since then, and they now produce a slew of products and ship worldwide.  They care about the quality of their products, even as they have grown.  Everything is non-GMO, no artificial colors or preservatives, they use only milk and butter from free range grass fed cows, eggs from free range chickens, etc.

Since this style of product just isn't for me in general, you probably shouldn't trust my opinion much.  I found them all quite boring, sorry!

Shortbreads

The shortbreads are Walkers signature product, and the first item they ever produced.  They pride themselves on the fact that they are made with only 4 ingredients: flour, butter, sugar, and salt.  They claim to make the largest selection of shortbreads in the world, available in a slew of sizes and varieties.

The basic shortbreads come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from "fingers" to triangles to rounds to animal shapes.  You can get them with chocolate chips.  Or packaged into a slew of fancy tins.  Or gluten-free of course.
Pure Butter Shortbread.
"Pure creamery butter shortbread baked in the Highland village of Aberlour in Speyside to an original family recipe, first perfected by Joseph Walker in 1898."

I tried the most basic shortbread of all, the classic pure butter shortbread.  I believe these were the fingers.

I had read their marketing about how they don't use preservatives, no artificial this or that, but, I was still shocked to see the ingredient list.  Most likely the shortest of any packaged product I've ever encountered: flour, butter, sugar, salt.  Literally.

Impressive.  That said, they were just shortbreads.

Decently crumbly, a bit buttery, but, just a plain shortbread.  Not something I'll ever get excited about.

Oatcakes

The oatcakes are a savory offering, known as "Scottish Biscuits for Cheese" in the US. Again, available in assorted shapes and sizes.
Highland Oatcakes
"A perfect accompaniment to soup, meat and fish dishes, cheese and preserves."  "The perfect accompaniment to any cheeseboard".

Whoops, I thought these were cookies!

Instead, they are dry, oat cakes.  Even with cheese, I really didn't care for them.  They tasted like sawdust!

Biscuits

Biscuits are what you know as cookies.  They make a few different varieties, but all hard style.
Oat 'n Honey.
"Delicious crunchy oat and honey biscuits."

These were very, very boring biscuits.  They tasted sorta like graham crackers, but were shaped like a cookie.  Since they looked like cookies, I expected more flavor from them.  My least favorite.
Stem Ginger.
"Walkers Stem Ginger Cookies are baked to perfection to a traditional recipe with generous pieces of whole Buderim stem ginger. The candied ginger bits in the cookies are a plus."

For packaged, hard-style cookies, these really weren't bad.  Yes, they were crispy and I don't tend to care for crispy cookies.  But they were just the right level of sweet, buttery, and I liked the very strong ginger flavor.

I certainly wouldn't ever purchase these, but I was pleasantly surprised.

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White Chocolate & Raspberry Biscuits. 

"Raspberries and white chocolate chips are packed into Walkers’ famous biscuit recipe."

I found these to be incredibly boring.  I thought raspberries and white chocolate would be tasty, but alas, not much going on here.  Just kinda dry, packaged cookies.  Never anything I'd like.
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