Value for Money Christmas Special
Not nice at all. The pudding is very sweet – although that is something all such products stand accused of – and lacks the home-made authenticity to be found elsewhere. It weighs in at almost half a kilogram and is made with 31 per cent sultanas and just 1.5 per cent whiskey – it would have been much improved had some of the sultanas content been given over to the booze. It is small, too, but on the plus side it is widely available and won’t cost the Earth.
Verdict: Not great.
Star rating: **
CARTON HOUSE €18
This is lovely, albeit rather expensive (although it is substantial, weighing one kilogram). It tastes home-made and has an admirably pure ingredient list, so you can easily claim to have made this yourself. It has a hint of brandy – more than a hint, actually – and while the Guinness is harder to detect, there is a hint of it. The price will, however, put many people off.
Verdict: Lovely but dear.
Star rating: ****
BYRNE’S LUXURY €6.99
First the bad news: unlike with the Carton House pudding, a lot of ingredients listed here would never have been found lurking in dear old granny’s larder back when plum puddings were made and not bought. The good news: this is a pleasing, drink-sodden affair. It is made with 8 per cent stout, and 39 per cent raisins, currants and sultanas, as well as 2.4 per cent whiskey and 2 per cent poitín (well that sounds more authentic than “ethanol and flavouring”. There’s also some cream liquor in the mix. Bottom line is it tastes nice and won’t hit your wallet too hard.
Verdict: Very good value.
Star rating: *****
When the sherry, brandy, cider and rum are added up, more than 15 per cent of this is made with booze, and it is all the better for it. It isn’t the best-tasting pudding here – in taste terms alone it finishes only third of the four – but it is nice and second helpings would not present a problem. It is unlikely to be met by too many oohs and ahs, but it will be greeted quite favourably in most households where it is served.
Verdict: A safe option.
Star rating: ***