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. Its a little rough, it lacks the smoothness that I’d expect from a gin which I would work well in a Churchill or similar strength martini.
What it is, and what it excels at is being an inexpensive mixer that brings classic juniper weight to the table but little else. Drop it in any cocktail, and it will do- it will be (for better or worse) undeniably gin.
Updated in 2015 to reflect an error in the original text. This gin is distilled in the Netherlands for the Aldi grocery chain in the UK.
Price: < £16 / L
Best consumed: Mixed and by Juniper-loving gin types
Availability: Supermarkets in the UK. Do you know how weird it is to type that being from New York, where liquor and supermarkets are inextricably divorced?
Rating: A juniper heavy gin that does a lot of things that gin is supposed to do very well. But it comes short in some key areas such as depth, smoothness and balance. That being said, I would not hesitate to buy it for a party.
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