William Teacher began his whisky empire from a chain of grocer’s stores in the 1830s. Teacher’s blended whisky was registered in 1884, one of the major products to follow in the wake of Andrew Usher’s pioneering blending work in the 1860s. Later Teacher’s would become Scotch pioneers themselves – from developing the patented ‘Self-Opening Bottle’, which could be easily opened with a twist, as only the bottom of the cork made a seal; through to breaking away from the traditional Scottish imagery and having cartoon branding, celebrity endorsements, as well as far more progressive and inclusive imagery. Teacher’s seemed to be one of the first whisky companies to use people from a non-white background in their 1970s advertising – something that is still uncommon today in the Scotch whisky industry. (The film, The Black Athlete, was produced through a grant from Teacher’s.)
Among the 30-something single malts that goes into its blends, you can find Ardmore; and back in the day, GlenDronach used to produce regularly for this blend, before it became one of the greatest secrets of single malt whisky and a whisky-geek favourite.
Today Teacher’s is owned by Beam Suntory, and remains one of the biggest Scotch brands in the world. Teacher’s Highland Cream is the core bottling in the range, and as iconic as the brand itself.
Colour: amber, deep gold. On the nose: classic graininess. Some sweet, watered-down honey. Mead. Almonds. There’s not much going on, but what is going on is very pleasant.
In the mouth: Maltroom floor. Almost watered-down new make spirit (which is not to speak ill of new spirit). A little sweetness, with sharper apples fighting for balance. Nice rounded mouthfeel. A little warmth of smoke. The nose notes comes through quite nicely, bringing the honey and mead with it. Almonds again (with the skins on). But… I feel it’s pretty bland stuff if I’m honest. It’s not that this has a bad taste, but rather too inoffensive for my liking. I’m even trying to take into account that it only costs around £15 a bottle; then again, so did Jim McEwan’s Symphony No. 1 – the best cheap whisky you’ll ever try.