Disclaimer: Righto, I need to be crystal clear with you all here. Whilst I have no involvement with the Wines & Spirits department, I do work for Aldi. I was also asked if I would write a review of their recent Spring spirits launch. However, all honest thoughts, opinions and content within this blog are my own & have undergone no editorial review. I also received no additional payment for writing the blog, though did receive sample bottles of all featured products. Right…now that’s out of the way. On to the blog!
What do you do when your boss approaches your desk, before it’s even time to reach for your sandwiches, and offers you a gin and tonic?!…
More specifically, what do you do when your boss approaches you before the caffeine has even had time to settle and offers you an entire Spring range worth of gin?!… well. Clearly, you do what any good and loyal employee would do; you adopt a positive, ‘can do’, attitude. You face in to the challenge head on. And you willingly oblige, asking if there’s anything else you can do to assist!
Now don’t get me wrong. This wasn’t a case of turning to drink in the face of it being ‘one of those days’! In fact, far from it…
On 15th March 2021, Aldi launched their new Spring range, starting from as little as just £8.99. In an attempt to bring a little lift to ‘Satur-yay’, raising the glasses and Spirits of the nation, a selection of 14 brand new fruit inspired spirits were hitting the shelves!
And in a case of being in the right place at the right time (on this occasion, my desk in my place of work, during my contracted working hours!) I was lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to sample a selection of my choosing.
What I had misunderstood is that my boss wasn’t looking for me to start the sampling right there and then at my desk – a mistake that could have been made by anyone! But after receiving a final written warning and agreeing some ground rules with Margret from HR, we moved swiftly on (note to reader: if my boss is reading this prior to my performance review, this didn’t actually happen. And I promise that there is only ever coffee in my mug!).
Aldi; ‘Springing’ in to action
On the day of their arrival, I couldn’t have been more excited! Though I must admit that my wife seemed a little less enthusiastic as I continued to unpack more sample bottles than a ‘to remain nameless’ caterpillar has got legs!
‘But this is not just any gin review…this is’ an Aldi Spring launch gin review! (see what I did there?…). And as such, I had been sprung in to action to put my palate to the test and my pen to paper to give you my lowdown on what to look out for on the shelves this season.
I needed no further ‘carrot’ dangled to pick up the mantle and demonstrate that I was a team player – Kevin or no Kevin! Having been invited to take my pick of the list, the kind of à la carte menu picking that I can really get on board with, I have collated a shortlist of my top picks of the spirits across the range that you should be adding to the shopping list.
So with my laptop lid firmly shut, and gin bottles open, I was going in…
(Note to reader: this review does not feature the full Spring range. For a fuller listing of available Wines and Spirits head to http://www.Aldi.co.uk)
Gin when you’re winning…
I opted to start things off, as all great stories do…at the beginning. And I was doing so with the Greyson’s London Dry Gin.
Greysons London Dry Gin (37.5% ABV)
Now, I should point out that the Greyson’s London Dry isn’t actually part of the Spring launch, and sits proudly as part of the Aldi core range. But in wanting to firmly root myself in classic grounding, before embarking on the journey of the wider offering, I felt it was an important way to create a more neutral canvas to work from.
I also knew going in to this tasting that I was in safe hands, and was reacquainting myself with a gin that has continued to impress me time and time again. I can say this without any fear of bias, as it’s been amongst my recommendations for people wanting a straightforward, no nonsense, gin with all of the quality but less of the price tag for years before my Aldi employment started! And there’s nothing that’s changed my opinion.
Whilst the passing years have seen a name change for the brand, moving from the perhaps more recognisable name of ‘Oliver Cromwell Gin’ to ‘Greyson’s’, it is a London Dry recipe that has become a stalwart in its own right. Indeed, it went on to win a gold medal at the International Spirits Challenge in 2018, alongside a Silver award at both the International Wines and Spirits Competition (IWSC) & The Spirits Business Gin Masters awards in the same year. By anyone’s standards, for a supermarket own label, that is overachieving and then some!
So what makes it so good?
On the nose, this is classic gin territory at its finest. You are greeted by zesty lemon peel, supported by a juniper forward profile that provides a hefty whack of pine. There is a fresh cut grassy herbal quality of the neat spirit, which presents mostly as the welcome familiarity of coriander. A slight dusting of cassia brings a gentle warming sweetness to balance the aroma.
It’s a clean, uncomplicated, and unpretentious to start to proceedings.
Pleasingly, to taste, it is much the same story! A zesty kick of lemon peel and sweet orange are supported by a flavour that is robustly juniper forward. There’s a really enjoyable sweetness of cassia bark and liquorice root, which works in perfect harmony with the herbal notes of coriander, which feels fresh and leafy.
It also has to be said that it carries an ‘easy drinking’ smoothness; there is very little alcohol burn on the back of the throat, with just a nice crack of pepper to leave a mid-range longevity on the tongue after each sip.
The Greyson’s London Dry is everything you’d want from a G&T – is is a perfectly weighted balance of big punchy juniper, the biting citrus peel of lemon & sweeter notes of orange, and a whisper of herbal greenery.
Alongside a premium tonic water it is both crisp and refreshing, delivering a boozy and grown up finish without the aggression. Even in spite of the lower ABV (a bare minimum of 37.5%), the gin refuses to be bullied or overpowered by the tonic.
As a Martini, I am struggling to fault it! The serve carries a plump juniper feel, with a citrus peel character that pairs brilliantly with the lemon twist garnish. The stone fruits of the Cocchi Americano Bianco vermouth work brilliantly with the gin, combining to deliver a creamy sweetness that is both elegant and ridiculously smooth like velvet.
This is a classic cocktail, using a classic gin, to deliver great results.
In summary, what more can I say?
Sure, it’s not in a fancy bottle. Ok, it even comes in the classic ‘green bottle’ that has seemingly become synonymous with ‘lower quality’ in some segments of the gin scene. But let’s not forget that this is a flagship gin for a budget retailer – it was never meant to come with the finery of bells and whistles; if that’s what you’re after then I have other recommendations for you.
If, however, you are after a classic juniper and citrus forward London Dry Gin at a price that is very bloody difficult to argue with, then look no further. In my opinion, this is a booze cupboard bargain that should be in everyone’s armoury.
You can grab a bottle of Greyson’s London Dry Gin now for £9.99 (wow!)
Grayson’s Sicilian Lemon Gin (37.5% ABV)
With the standard set, it was time to delve a little deeper in to the Spring catalog. And in sticking with the gins, next up was the first of the Greyson’s sibling expressions in the form of the Sicilian Lemon. And whilst a firm fan bit of gins taking a citrus forward approach, I have to admit to approaching the bottle with a slight trepidation on seeing the hazy yellow hue emanating from the bottle…
On the nose, the lemon feels sharp and fresh. A promising start, given the flavour profile in question. But for me, the other prominent notes from the London Dry are overwhelmed by the introduction of an up weighted focus on the citrus profile. I’m not necessarily complaining – as I’ve said, you’re taking to the number one card carrying member of the citrus forward fan club! But, it is with a little quiver of the bottom lip that the juniper takes a giant step backwards and becomes far more subtle.
To taste, and I had to double check the ABV and bottle labelling; the sweetness is so amped up that the mouthfeel transends to almost liqueur-esq territory. I offered a sample to my wife (I’m generous like that!) who agreed that the gin straddles an almost limoncello like tightrope.
You do still get the herbal hit of coriander and there is, pleasingly, still a subtle hint of piney juniper with a spiced and warming finish. There’s something almost menthol and medicinal to the neat liquid – a bit like a lemon halls soother. I appreciate that, that sounds like a negative, but it’s not meant to!
Though I will admit that I am on the fence as to whether there is a suggestion of the synthetic to the flavour profile – it’s tasty, sure, but to my palate it doesn’t quite give that fresh and vibrant feel of the citrus that I’d be hoping for.
Lemon & Lychee Martini
I opted to try the gin as a Martini, serving in a 5:1 ratio but splitting the vermouth element to combine with a splash of the Apricot & Lychee liqueur (more on that later). And let me tell you – it’s not like any martini I’ve ever tried before!
It is very, VERY, sweet. If I’m honest, the gin liqueur pushes it over the edge… But let’s be clear – this has a market and I think I could make money from this! The only thing that this cocktail needs is a shot of Prosecco on the side and I’d be quids in! And my lord if it’s not a grower! It won’t become a regular haunt, but after a few sips it’s undeniably tasty.
Fancy trying it for yourself? Grab your bottle of Greyson’s Sicilian Lemon Gin now for £12.99
Greyson’s Mediterranean Orange Gin (37.5% ABV)
Completing the Greyson’s trio is the Mediterranean Orange, with its hazy glow doing little to settle my nerves. But stick with me, because this is a bit of a surprise package…
On the nose there is a bright and juicy aroma of sweet tangerine and suggestions of floral orange blossom. It feels heavily fruited, with an elevated level of sweetness. But, as with the lemon, it is at the expense of the broader flavour profile of the London Dry.
To taste, and those bright orange notes of tangerine burst from the neat spirit. It’s incredibly fruit forward, with the unashamedly citrus character sat front and centre. There is a spiced character to the gin, with coriander and sweet cinnamon providing a warming longevity on the tongue and a crack of black pepper to the finish.
Yes, it’s probably overtly sweetened. And whilst I find this less on the synthetic side than the lemon expression, it oddly seems to boarder the liqueur terrain even more so than its sibling, with the orange blush haze and ‘sticky’ feel raising the occasional eyebrow. But the tangerine flavour is undeniably delicious, with the warmth of the alcohol providing a slight sense of ‘chocolate orange’ when sampled neat.
Mediterranean Orange Negroni
Served in a Negroni, and the Mediterranean Orange gin finds its home!
I’ll level with you. It is a little on the sweet side as far as a Negroni goes for my personal taste. But this is still a good Negroni nonetheless! The bright tangerine notes spring from the glass, with a boozy warmth of the gin still very evident. The cocoa nib chocolate tones that I picked up on the initial tasting are also classic bedfellows for the burnt orange notes of the cocktail. The liqueur like sweetness of the neat gin works brilliantly in the short serve classic, in counteracting the bitterness of the Campari! Though, again, to my personal taste the sweetness actually tips the scale too far in the opposite direction and dilutes some of the bitterness that I crave from this drink.
That said, for those who are newer to the world of Negronis or perhaps are dipping their toe in the category and want to dodge some of the bitterness that comes as part of the standard package, this is a very good gateway serve. I certainly wouldn’t kick this out of bed…
You can pick up a bottle of the Greyson’s Mediterranean Orange Gin for £12.99
Have your cake & drink it…
It was at this point that I became nervous…the liqueurs.
Now I’m going to level with you. Gin liqueurs is a category that I usually tend to dodge. Not that you’ll find any judgement here – it’s not a move made out of snobbery and there is a huge and enthusiastic market for these lower ABV, generally fruited and rather sweet liquids. But for my personal preferences for classic London Dry styles (and a penchant for a gin of a Navy Strength persuasion), I generally find myself at the polar opposite end of the spectrum.
Still, with the Spring and warmer weather on the way, it would be remiss…nay! negligent of me not to at least dip my toe in the name of research…
The Infusionist Apricot Lychee Gin Liqueur (20% ABV)
Intended to be “the talk of the picnic table” ‘The Infusionist Apricot & Lychee Gin Liqueur’ is eye catching to say the least.
As a total package, on the eye at least, I think we can all agree that it is pretty spectacular! For all of the catwalk ready designs out there on the market, this little vessel doesn’t look out of place amongst them for a second!…and then you pinch yourself and are reminded that this is an Aldi buy!
With its unique bubble style bottle, playing host to the sumptuous looking liquid inside, it also offers the option for a bit of ‘up cycling’ once it’s empty (which probably won’t take you too long to be fair!). Fairy lights at the ready if a bit of creativity tickles your fancy.
But is it all style over substance you ask?
Well, on the nose you’ll get big punchy notes of apricot and tropical lashings of lychee that also seem to bridge the sphere of pineapple and mango. There is a big amount of tropical sweetness going on here, but it feels rich and indulgent rather than tipping over in to the ‘teeth rotting’ terrain.
To taste, and wow – HUGE stone fruit flavours of apricot explode on to the palate. I found myself wracking my brains for the flavour it reminded me of. Until it hit me! It transports me to childhood memories of Wriggley’s ‘Juicy Fruit’ chewing gum (a personal retro favourite!)
Yes, the sweetness is massive. But this is unashamedly and exactly what it suggests it is going to be on the label. Which, I have to commend, is very clearly labelled as a liqueur and not a gin.
Apricot and Lychee. What were you expecting? It’s delicious.
You can grab it now for £10.99
The Infusionist Lemon Drizzle Cake Gin Liqueur (20% ABV)
Ok. Fine. I’ll admit it.
With a limoncello sweetness and soft syrup mouthfeel, the Lemon Drizzle Cake liqueur is actually pretty good…
I had my reservations, with the ‘cake’ aspect instantly giving me palpitations and expectations of a sugar-bomb. But on tasting, the liqueur is nicely balanced and carries a gentle boozy warmth that leaves you in no doubt that you’re drinking a grown up spirit.
Packaged up within a bottle and label design that screams ‘sunshine vibes’, this is a fun little Spring and Summer tipple that’s ok for adults to enjoy!
And if you do feel like elevating this sassy citrus sipper, then topping up with your favourite Prosecco (or Champagne if your feeling fancy and frivolous!) will make for an indulgent way to see in those warmer evenings.
If you fancy a ‘slice’ of this, you can grab a bottle for £8.99
The Infusionist Strawberry & Vanilla Gin Liqueur (20% ABV)
Unfortunately, not everyone can be a winner. And in this case, the Strawberry & Vanilla liqueur wasn’t for me.
Whilst I like that the alcohol warmth is retained, something the Infusionist brand seems to do consistently well across their liqueurs, I do find the flavour presents as a little more synthetic. Whilst undeniably ‘strawberry’, the amped up level of sweetness is more suggestive of pic n mix ‘strawberry laces’ than it is of a freshly field picked fruit.
Now don’t get me wrong. As I’ve already said, I’m not the target market for this drink – there will be other people out there who will love this product! And I can certainly see a place for it in cocktail making to liven up the impending get togethers. But it’s just not my bag…
If, however, this does sound like a little bit of you, then you can grab a bottle for £8.99
It’s party time
So it’s been a year of having the perfect frock, but nowhere to go to wear it. Or is that just me?! But as we enter the warmer weather, and a lightening of restrictions hopefully on the horizon, Aldi have the perfect ingredients to up your cocktail game just in time to welcome friends and families round to enjoy the garden parties! BBQ’s and glasses at the ready friends…
Aperini Aperitif (11% ABV)
The Aperini is designed to be an alternative to Aperol, with a focus on the classic ‘Spritz’ serve as we head in to longer days spent relaxing in the garden.
On the nose, I get the burnt orange marmalade bitterness and bouquet of herbs that I would be looking for in a spirit of this kind. It’s a reassuring and promising start!
Unfortunately, the taste doesn’t reveal the same layers of flavour that I had hoped. The orange, whilst the leading characteristic, is a little on the subtle side. And the bitterness I was craving is hidden behind an amplified wall of syrupy sweetness. Whilst there is a nod in the direction of herbal greenery, I found my palate overwhelmed by the sugar content. To its detriment, it conspires to create a flavour that threatens to tip over in to slightly chemical territory…
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a tasty liquid. And at its price point it is a strong contender for this seasons garden party cocktails! But to my personal taste, which has admittedly become more bitter & twisted through my years of blogging, the raw aggression I was seeking was sadly not as present as I’d hoped.
The Aperini Spritz
That said, as an Aperini Spritz, served in the classic 3-2-1 ratio (here I went 150ml Prosecco, 100ml Aperini & 50ml soda) it’s a refreshing longer serve, that feels indulgent and elegant, and just perfect for sunny afternoon sipping.
If I’m being slightly critical, the orange citrus doesn’t pop as much as the branded Aperol, and the bitterness is reigned in. But the sharpness of the Prosecco works wonders for cutting through the sweetness of the spirit to bring poise and balance to the cocktail.
Is it an exact replica of the Aperol Spritz? No. Probably not. But you know what? It’s not bloody far off. And at a price point that is significantly more wallet friendly, I can see this being very popular this year!
You can grab a slice of the action for just £6.99 for a bottle of the Aperini!
The Aperini Spritz pre-canned RTD is pleasant enough. Whilst the orange feels bright, it does carry a little more sweetness than a homemade cocktail, and takes on a profile that feels a little more akin to a lemonade mixer than the sophistication you get from combining the Aperini with your a fizz of your own choosing.
Nevertheless, these are perfect for the picnic blanket or travel companions for cross country travel as the restrictions lift!
Aldi Spring launch; Store Closing Time…
So there you have it – would I do a review of Aldi’s Spring range they asked? ‘Just done it’!…what?
There are some absolutely incredible bargains on offer for you to get your mitts on this Spring! For my money, the Greyson’s London Dry is an absolute ‘must have’ for any gin collection, delivering award winning gin at superb value!
And if you’re jumping on the growing Negroni bandwagon, the Greyson’s Mediterranean Orange expression is well worth a go.
If you’re looking for something to satisfy your sweet tooth, the Infusionist Apricot & Lychee Gin Liqueur is as pleasing to drink as it is on the eye, and my pick of the liqueurs. I’d keep a bottle of this on hand, and I don’t usually entertain the thought of liqueurs!
I was also really impressed with the Aperini, with a round of ‘Aperini Spritz’ offering a genuine value alternative to the classic when welcoming friends and families back in to our homes this summer. And with ‘Austin’s Summer Spirit Drink’ (£7.49, 70cl) also offering an alternative to Pimm’s, ‘Happy Hour’ is well and truly on!
Sure, not everything I tried was for me; not every caterpillar can be a butterfly you know! (I’m not sure if that is biologically correct, but as an Aldi pun it works, so I’m sticking with it!). But one thing is for certain – at prices ranging from just £8.99-£14.99, there’s almost certainly something for everyone, from newbies to the gin scene to the biggest aficionados!
What are you waiting for? Aldi’s Spring Range…there’s a lot to LIKE.
With huge thanks to Team Aldi for allowing me to sample the new Spring Range and for the complementary bottles to facilitate this review!
If you would like more details on the Aldi Spring Range, and the wider Wines & Spirits offer, head to the website now! And be sure to follow Cuthbert, Kevin and the gang across Social Media:
Facebook: Aldi UK
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