During this years Edinburgh Fringe I ate a lot of crisps and when I say a lot I mean at least two small packets a day. This was part of our show, but of stage, I ate a lot of crisps as well because it’s the quick bite after a show that ends at 12.30 AM. A cultured individual like myself does want to adapt to the flavors and traditions of the country I am visiting and that is why I ate a lot of different Salt & Vinegar Crisps. Six different brands at that and I am going to rank them in this review. Before I start with the review I want to state that I am not doing a review of Kettle’s Salt & Vinegar in this piece, this is because it is my baseline, the first time I ever ate Salt & Vinegar crisps was Kettle and they get a 3/5 stars, an exemptible crisp for a baseline.
The crisps will be ordered in the order I ate them during the Fringe. I am only making note of the “special” types of vinegar that have been used in these crisps. All of them use sea salt.
Co-op: Sea Salt & Chardonnay wine Vinegar
When opening the packet you will see a slight hint of red potato peel around the edges of the crisps. Upon entering the mouth the crisp is good, but not spectacular. You immediately taste the vinegar: the sour, harsh attack of (cheap) Chardonnay that has fermented just slightly too long. The taste of the salt is pushed back by this exceptionally strong vinegar. You have to get used to the fact that the taste will take over your whole pallet for about two hours but is it is an exciting crisp.
Walkers: Salt and Vinegar
I bought these for our performances, so it where small packets and that was already horrible enough! the type of vinegar used is not specified in the list of ingredients, which gives the impression that they used all purpose cleaning vinegar. It is a soggy crisp when it enters your mouth and the vinegar tastes more like spoiled milk or old worn socks! The salt is like a jab straight into your kidneys. Do not buy these and if you do keep them away from small children!
Mackie’s of Scotland: Sea Salt & Vinegar
Again this was a small packet that I bought together with lunch one day. This was the first crisp that had a decent salt to vinegar ratio, so you could actually enjoy the classic combination. The crispiness is good, not too soft and a good crunch at the first bite! the vinegar makes a nice little whirl with the salt like a classical dance in your mouth. the smell is subtle and not too pungent. I do not know who Mackie is but he can certainly make a great crisp.
Tesco Finest: Sea Salt & Cider Vinegar
What a buy and what an amazing crisp. I knew from previous experiences that Tesco Finest makes some great crisps but this is the best one yet. The crunch is super nice and elegant. The cider vinegar is stronger than the salt but not too much so you can still taste a hint of salty goodness! The hint of apple in the cider certainly pull this crisp over the edge from great to fantastic. Once you start eating these you will not finish until the packet is empty!!
McCoy’s Ridge cut: Salt & Malt Vinegar
First things first: I find that ridge cut crisps are of an extreme advantage above normal cut crisps. However, I could not find McCoy’s without the ridges so I give them this advantage in this review. For me ridges just enhance the crunch exceptionally which is a great thing for a crisp! the Malt Vinegar is not too present in this crisp. However, the salt is, which means that this is more of a slightly sour salted crisp than a vinegar. That’s a shame for a salt and vinegar crisp. However, it has a good crunch and that makes it worth the while.
Marks & Spencer: Sea Salt & Malt Vinegar
The Marks & Spencer crisps were recommended to me by a good friend so I put them to the test. Personally, I find Marks & Spencer’s too expensive. I always have the feeling I am out of place in their shops, standing in a queue behind the Queen is quite an experience. These crisps are kind of flaky, they do not have a good mouth feel or crunch. The balance between salt and vinegar is good, but it is nothing special. We had to walk quite some distance to get these and it was not worth the effort.
While in Edinburgh one cannot count himself ready to leave before one has stuffed its face in a plate of haggis!! Haggis in Scotland is everywhere, even as a crisp flavour. In this case Mackie’s of Scotland Haggis & cracked black pepper and of course, a review on iratecrisps.com cannot be missed.
At first I was afraid, I was petrified but then I opened the bag. The smell that oozed out reminded me of the smell of the warm water that is used to keep the smoked sausage in the nice and hot in the store. I tried one of the crisps and put it in my mouth. The crunch was basic. One could even say it was a little flaky but overall the texture was up to standards. The taste however, was fantastic it tastes exactly as a smoked sausage. Then the fat and salt started to take over it is a crisp after all. After about four or five crisps you only tasted fat and salt, which is a shame. I still think there is a lot to improve on these crisps. To be perfectly honest I liked these crisps I would buy them again but the fat and salt at the end makes you feel dirty inside. This is a little like a bag of Patatje Joppie crisps you want more but do you need it?
At first sight the crisp does look like a normal paprika crisp. I popped one into my mouth and it did taste like a paprika crisp. However, part of the crunch was more flakey or chewy than crispy! After tasting a second crisp I established that these crisps do indeed taste like paprika but not as plentiful as the ‘normal’ Lays Paprika crisps. If you want some paprika flavoured crisps, just go into the store and grab the original Paprika. And for the crunch lovers: get the ridge cut! That one never disappoints.