When you pop off the lid to the biscuit tin, what’s the first thing you search for? A digestive? A custard cream, maybe? Or perhaps a malted milk? For me, it’s often a chocolate bourbon I find irresistible.
The sandwich biscuit sees two thin rectangular dark chocolate-flavoured biscuits with a chocolate buttercream filling, and according to a 2022 survey, it’s the third most popular biscuit among Brits, behind Biscoff and shortbread.
So popular, in fact, that it’s reported to have been the first biscuit on the moon, enjoyed by Buzz Aldrin shortly after Apollo 11 landed.
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The chocolate biscuits were initially introduced in 1910, but got their Bourbon name more than 20 years later in the 1930s. Now, many companies make their own version of the biscuit under the Bourbon name - including major supermarkets.
Many would consider these biscuits to be pretty standardised, perhaps even made in the same factory and packaged for different stores. However, when I tried bourbons from Aldi, Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and M&S, I found some big differences.
Here’s what I thought of own-brand bourbon biscuits at all of the major supermarkets.
Price and pack size
The price of bourbon biscuits varies from store to store, from 33p in Aldi, to 69p in Morrisons. I picked up the cheapest pack in every supermarket, however noticed Morrisons does have a pack priced at 75p with Morrisons branding, too, but they were out of stock at the time.
Sainsbury’s biscuits come in at 34p, followed by 35p in M&S, while Tescos cost 49p and Asda’s 1p more at 50p. That said, these packs all vary in weight, some containing half as many biscuits as others.
The smallest pack comes from M&S at 150g, while Morrisons, Aldi and Sainsbury’s are all 200g. Tesco’s pack weighs in at 296g, with Asda’s being 4g more at 300g.
So, we’ve worked out the price per 100g to get a more accurate idea of cost. Here they are from least to most expensive.
Aldi - 16.5p per 100g
Asda - 16.7p per 100g
Sainsbury’s - 17p per 100g
Tesco - 17p per 100g
M&S - 23.3p per 100g
Morrisons - 34.5p per 100g
Looking at the biscuits lined up, Tesco and Asda’s look strikingly similar, while Sainsbury’s and Morrisons also look extremely alike. Marks and Spencer’s offering is most obviously unique, shaped more like a custard cream, though each one bears the bourbon name and tiny holes that, surprisingly, aren’t just for decoration.
The small holes in bourbon biscuits are to prevent the biscuits from cracking or breaking during the baking process, by allowing steam to escape. It’s more successful with some of the biscuits than others, with the first couple of biscuits from Tesco, M&S and Morrisons all being broken in the pack.
After inspecting each of the sweet treats, I carefully attempted to separate each one into two halves to reveal the buttercream filling. To look at, Sainsbury’s seemed to have a pretty decent filling, but would M&S’s offer a better biscuit to cream ratio with its smaller stature?
The filling all looked pretty uniformed among the biscuits, but some were sturdier than others. Both Sainsbury’s and Asda’s biscuits cracked under pressure, while M&S’s was like trying to put a crumbly jigsaw back together, which didn’t give me much hope for the ‘dunk test’.
Taste and dunk test
To complete this experiment, I tasted each of the biscuits before and after dunking them in a freshly made cuppa, as I’d have hated to have crowned a winner only to find myself screaming ‘get a spoon’ like Peter Kay at a later date.
Okay - onto the biscuits. Firsty Tesco’s biscuit was quite dry, perhaps due to a lack of filling, a combination which Sainsbury’s fared better for. Meanwhile Morrisons’ biscuit was also pretty dry, but had a nice, malty flavour.
Marks and Spencer’s biscuit, as suspected, failed the dunk test and practically disintegrated in my brew, however, I was a big fan of the filling in this one. By contrast, Aldi’s biscuit was like a house brick - a seriously solid biscuit that could weather a storm - but it wasn’t my favourite.
The winning biscuit, for me, was from Asda. Second cheapest per biscuit, they’re also suitable for vegans. Tesco’s biscuits were also vegan, while the rest were all vegetarian, but I like the fact that Asda’s biscuits cater to a wider range of people.
The filling was sweet and chocolatey, with a fair mix of buttercream to biscuit, which meant it dunked well, absorbing the perfect amount of tea to soften, but not completely obliterate the biccy. Well done, Asda!
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