Cheap Gin. I don’t have a problem with it. In fact, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by many bottom shelf options I’ve tried. New Amsterdam is a bargain. Rather inexpensive but a good gin on its own. Not just for the Price. So I have an open mind. I’m not biased against a gin which is cheap for cheap sake. “Supermarket gin” is not inherently bad in and of itself.
So of course when David at Summer Fruit Cup told me this gin had a Molasses base, I was pretty excited. Experimentation with bases (things other than neutral grain) are among my favorite trends in modern gin. So how did this molasses-base hold up in tasting?
The beginning is rather pleasant. A tingle of citrus and a prickle of juniper. This all gives way to an intense and sudden burst of heat. The sharp heat blurs the mid notes and gives away to a finish which is lingering, slightly burning, and leaves a bitter aftertaste in the mouth. Though the aftertaste has intimations of the juniper and citrus, its not altogether too pleasant. There’s not enough subtlety to say if there is anything in the molasses base which adds or subtracts from the drink.
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The little bottle of Oliver Cromwell 1599 Gin that I had the pleasure of tasting was again thanks to the kindness of the kind gin-loving compatriots over at Summer Fruit Cup.
Spirits competitions remind me a bit of beer competitions. For example, let’s take the example of Budweiser or Pabst Blue Ribbon. Most beer connoisseurs would probably be reluctant to say “those are great beers” (given the array of complex craft brews out there) but they are stellar examples of that style. A lager is supposed to be clear, uncomplex, yawn-inspiring. So naturally when I heard an inexpensive gin from Aldi won an award I assumed it must be a to-the-letter example of what gin should be. And actually, I wouldn’t have been the far off.
Aldi is a classic example of a juniper forward, juniper heavy gin. It may be classic to a fault, as it is a one note performance. I think there might be some coriander, as there were hints of an underlying spiciness to it. But really, let’s be honest- unless you’re drinking it straight you probably won’t be detecting anything but the juniper.
As for drinking it straight, I’m not sure I can recommend that whole-heartedly.
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