You will be pleased to know that I have got off my soap box, had a lie down, consumed a few stiff G&Ts and am now ready to continue my exploration of the ginaissance.
The budget supermarket, Aldi, is continuing to make inroads into what was once the preserve of the four or five big supermarket chains. What they lack in choice and comfort, they more than make up for in price and when times are hard, every penny counts. They have made a concerted attempt to grab a slice of the growing gin market and one of their range that took my eye and found its way into my shopping trolley was Topaz Blue London Dry Gin. At £13.99 for a 70 cl bottle, it is a snip.
The first thing to say is that the bottle bears some resemblance to that of the more expensive Bombay Sapphire. Surely the use of the name of a precious stone is just too much of a coincidence? The script on the label and the shape of the image at the front of the bottle also look very similar from afar. And then there is the bluish hue to the bottle, given by the blue backing of the labelling in the Aldi product’s case rather than the colour of its glass. But, to be fair, that is where the similarities end.
The bottle is tall and slim and quite tactile. For those of us who are all fingers and thumbs, it is easy to manoeuvre with one hand, something you often cannot say about the fatter, more elaborate bottles used by the more expensive gin makers. The cap is a rather flimsy, foil affair in dark blue.
The labelling is quite informative as to what the gin is all about, boasting that it is the result of “superior small batch distillation.” Comforting to know, I’m sure. It goes on to proclaim that “this superior gin is a testament to the passion and artistry of our distiller, infusing wild botanicals and select fruits for an earthy, spicy, fruit driven, full bodied flavour.” Having blown smoke up the distiller’s posterior, the bottle omits to tell us who it might be. We must rest in the knowledge they know who they are.
The reverse of the bottle helpfully lists the botanicals to be found within, together with a little pictogram of each so you can see what they look like in their natural state. They are juniper, coriander, angelica, almond, lemon peel, cassia, orange peel, liquorice, orris and cinnamon. A solid selection which holds out the promise of a juniper-led, conventional London dry gin.
Unscrewing the top, the aroma is initially of juniper and coriander with spice and citrus elements coming through. Compared with some gins the nose is not as strong as I would have expected. That feeling is compounded when I took a sip. It seemed rather light-bodied, as though something was missing. The initial sensation was of juniper, quite spicy and slightly sour, and then the spices and citrus elements broke through, ending with a spicy aftertaste. Perhaps this is where the liquorice came in to play.
I just felt that it was a little undercooked, promising more than it could actually deliver and one that would probably not be suitable to drink neat. With a decent tonic, I found it much more palatable and at 40% ABV, it made for a pleasant early evening drink.
Of course, that is only my opinion. Better judges than I awarded it a gold medal at the Spirits Business Gin Masters last year, after a blind tasting. Try for yourself.
Until the next time, cheers!