Value Gin

As a drinks writer, I am always looking for the “diamond in the rough”; products that represent some of the best value for money out there. I had previously crowned Aldi’s Oliver Cromwell Gin as part of my [best budget gin and tonic], but what do some of the other own-brands have to offer?

Each of the following gins were tried in what are, in my opinion, the three essential measures of a gin: on its own, with tonic, and in a Martini. Without further ado, here are my thoughts.

Own

#1 Asda (Richmond Gin)
Asda don’t actually have a value or “smart price” gin anymore; instead, they use Richmond Gin, which is distilled at Greenalls.
Nose: Almost nothing, apart from soapy coriander and a whiff of Pritt Stick glue.
Taste: Quite smooth, but still quite gluey, this seems quite artificial, although there is some juniper and coriander.

#2 Mark’s & Spencer Value
This is one of the few own-brand gins that isn’t made at G.J. Greenalls.
It was very smooth, with subtle juniper and coriander. It was also rather easy to drink on its own, with no burn.

#3 Morrison’s Value
Another own-brand gin not made at Greenalls.
Intially smooth, this had some bitterness at the end. There were notes of juniper and coriander, and quite a lot of nutty earthiness, too. Overall, mild in flavour.

#4 Sainsbury’s Value
The entry-level gin of Sainsbury’s is based and made at G.J. Greenalls.
Quite a sweet start, with a lot of liquorice and orange, and a silky texture. Floral, with a tingly warmth at the end.

#5 Sainsbury’s London Dry Gin
Sainsbury’s reasonably priced, grain-based gin, also made by G.J. Greenalls.
Quite fresh a little bit fruity good clean juniper and citrus notes. Lively yet smooth.

#6 Tesco Value
Tesco’s entry-level gin is molasses-based (although until recently it was grain-based) and made at G.J. Greenalls.
With some burn throughout, this had distinct notes of juniper, coriander and a hint of something fresh, like cucumber. At the end, there was a dusty bitterness.

#7 Waitrose Molasses
The entry-level gin of Waitrose, this is molasses-based and also made at G.J. Greenalls.
As gins go, it is quite rustic, with a slight biscuity quality. Strong juniper, with a sweet finish.

#8 Waitrose Grain
Waitrose’s reasonably priced, grain-based gin is – you guessed it! – made at G.J. Greenalls.
This had quite light juniper and angelica as its most prominent notes, being soft and silky with some earthy notes on the finish.

Winner: Marks & Spencer

Update: 2012

#9 Waitrose Value
Quite a fresh and zesty nose, lemon and coriander. In terms of taste very crisp and refreshing; the suggested serve for a gin and tonic is cucumber and I can see that working well. Some sweetness too and a long piney finish. Very good.

#10 Asda London Dry Gin (37.5% ABV)
Nose: Alcohol, a little pine, vanilla and lemon.
Taste: Straightforward and rather vodka-like, with a little piney juniper and a touch of citrus. Below par.

Gin & Tonic

#1 Asda (Richmond Gin)
Very little flavour; the gin is easily lost beneath the tonic and there’s very little juniper. Frankly, rubbish.

#2 Mark’s & Spencer Value
Notable juniper and a fair bit of citrus, mostly orange. Quite refreshing, but could be fresher.

#3 Morrison’s Value
Clean, crisp and pretty refreshing. Prominent juniper, as well as a citrusy, zingy zestiness. Pretty good.

#4 Sainsbury’s Value
Not very refreshing and rather cloying; little of the character of the gin comes through the tonic. One to be avoided.

#5 Sainsbury’s London Dry Gin
Pretty straight forward and rather average. There’s some juniper to start, followed by some sweetness towards the end.

#6 Tesco Value
Another sweet one, although there is also discernible juniper, coriander and angelica. Generally, I think this is middle-of-the-road.

#7 Waitrose Molasses
Very citrusy, but refreshing as well. Straight-forward, but very sippable, with a bitter finish.

#8 Waitrose Grain
A very earthy drink, with juniper and citrus, alongside some earthy notes. Pleasant, but not all that refreshing.

Winner: Morrisons

Update: 2012

#9 Waitrose Value
Very juicy and citrus and well as providing good refreshment. For the price of the gin this is one of the best gin and tonic you can made and is a rival for Aldi’s award-winning Oliver Cromwell.

#10 Asda London Dry Gin (37.5% ABV)
Reasonable: quite clean, with dry flavours of juniper and citrus, making this relatively refreshing. With chilled ice and a fresh garnish, this could easily be above average.

Martini

#1 Asda (Richmond Gin)
Very little juniper to speak of, although there’s a touch of coriander making this slightly reminiscent of a Vodka Martini. Disappointing.

#2 Mark’s & Spencer Value
Smooth, this is another one that’s quite similar to a Vodka Martini and, as such, lacks the character I look for in a Gin Martini.

#3 Morrison’s Value
Very good; clean and crisp, with faint, fresh cucumber/celery notes, as well as more complex juniper and citrus. Pretty classic.

#4 Sainsbury’s Value
Rather bitter and quite acidic on the finish. Juniper and coriander were present, but this wasn’t that pleasant.

#5 Sainsbury’s London Dry Gin
This was pretty good and came in a close second. There was some piney/sappy juniper and quite a lot of floral notes, such as iris, smooth and flavourful.

#6 Tesco Value
A middle-of-the-road drink; juniper and citrus, with some anise. Straight-forward and rather basic, but then that’s what it says on the label.

#7 Waitrose Molasses
A mellow Martini with juniper and citrus, being not too sharp or crisp. As much as a Martini can be, it seemed rather cosy and comforting. I like it.

#8 Waitrose Grain
Quite a good Martini, with all the hallmarks you look for, including crispness and smoothness. It also had some bitter herbal notes, but doesn’t stand up to the vermouth as much as I would have liked.

Winner: Morrisons

Update: 2012

#9 Waitrose Value
Some spicy notes come through, nutmeg and cardamom and some other earthy notes along with the juniper. lemon twist is the order of the day for garnish.

#10 Asda London Dry Gin (37.5% ABV)
Again, this is reasonable. Maybe a tad on the oily side and very basic in flavour; that said, it would be a good choice if you wanted to garnish with an olive or – if it tickled your fancy – in a Dirty Martini.

In Conclusion

This was real mixed bag, but nonetheless an experiment worth trying. Some gins were certainly better than others; here is our top three pick.

 

1st Morrisons Value
2nd Marks & Spencer Value
3rd Waitrose Molasses

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Product Reviews and tagged , by DTS. Bookmark the permalink.

About DTS

partial to a martini? to a smoke-hazed gin joint & a perfect tipple poured with the style, swank & skill of a true aficionado? …then pull up your stool to the bar, prepare to stock up your cocktail cabinet & get ready to drink it all in as we introduce you to a stitch in times’ resident barman… David T. Smith is a drinks enthusiast currently residing in the U.K. a long-time fan of tasting & exploring various types of alcohol, he has a fascination for vintage spirits and cocktails, in particular their heritage & origins; this was strengthened last year when he presented a talk and accompanying monograph on the Martini. it was as a result of his research of this topic that he was introduced to drinks paraphernalia, & he is now the happy owner of a colourful collection of bottles, books, and gadgets from a wide range of eras… an avid believer in the validity and variety of personal opinion, particularly in the subjective area of tasting, he enjoys hosting tasting sessions for friends, constantly challenging them to find their own favourite tipple. in addition to all of this, he is also interested in economics, three-piece suits, board games & keeping alive the art of engaging in enjoyable conversation with a good glass of port whilst surrounded by pipe smoke… www.summerfruitcup.com Thanks to Analiebe for writing this rather flattering blurb for me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s