gin and juice / by Joe Fattorini

It's hard to know what was the more surprising discovery this week. That testicles have taste receptors? Or that Aldi’s £9.95 Gin was judged one of the best in the world at the IWSC Awards. These facts are unrelated by the way. I tried. Apparently that's why they call it a hi-ball.

For some the gin news caused consternation. Mainly because you couldn't get hold of it. Aldi stores were filled with twenty-first century Margo and Jerry's, looking bereft at empty shelves, heading home only with some charcuterie that looked nice and 54 bog rolls. Incidentally, the charcuterie really is very good. And the wine collection too. And the loo paper*.

(*As it happens, this is exactly what Aldi are hoping people will do. Especially with wine, award-winning spirits and special offers. "Some people shop with us first to try the wine and then come back to do a weekly shop" said Aldi MD Matthew Barnes in The Telegraph last year, "so it's very important to us"

But there was also a slight sniffiness about the price. By some estimates the final cost of gin in the bottle after fixed costs and tax is about 77p. This is hardly Aldi’s fault. Most of the cost of a bottle of gin goes to the tax man. What you're actually buying from Aldi here is something that costs about as much to make as a Snickers Bar*. (*As a male writer in his forties, I am legally obliged by the Guild of Reminiscing Comedy to recall how this was formerly called a Marathon). Bottle of award-winning spirits vs cheap chocolate. I know which gives me more pleasure.


Some people knocking the low cost of Aldi’s gin could also be accused of a little hypocrisy. On the one hand they bemoan the minimal cost of ingredients in gin. On the other they're full of praise for the timeless joy of a plain jambon beurre or the simple flavours of a ripe apricot. Things don't need to cost a lot to be good. Gin is a bright, citrusy, juniper-scented spirit that needs to hold its own though some tonic, a measure of Campari or grapefruit juice if you're a rapper. There's no law that says it’s always better if it's distilled by a man with a ginger beard in his garage, using hand-rubbed lemon verbena and juniper berries that have been through the alimentary canal of a civet cat.

Maybe, just maybe, Aldi’s gin is the small boy in the crowd pointing at the procession of imperially-priced “craft" gins and suggesting they are actually wearing no clothes. A metaphor almost as twisted as my clackers when I tried to see if they could taste an Aldi Gin Tom Collins.

Incidentally, at this point you maybe wondering why I am so determined to litter a perfectly decent discussion of a gin with references of testicles. I genuinely did discover that they have taste receptors this week. It's been on my mind. But also on my mind have been the curse of paid-for-social-media-posts in drinks writing and the murky world of advertorial. People might think that a warmly positive review of Aldi's gin was sort of quid pro quo. But by repeatedly referencing my knackers this guarantees nobody in the press office will ever direct anyone here. It makes sure our relationship remains not only arm’s length, but distant to the point they’d probably cross the street if they saw me coming. It's a weird logic, but I'm proud of it. #notanad... as they don't say among wine's Instagram influencers.

More stocks of Oliver Cromwell Gin are arriving in Aldi stores soon. Do go and try it. You’ll like it more than a Snickers* (*Marathon) bar. And most gins at twice, thrice, fource… fourthce… four times the price. While you're there buy some charcuterie, loo rolls and wine too. I heartily commend Aldi Cotes du Provence Rose (£5.99) whilst the sun is out for a soft apricot and wild strawberry scented, light style of rose. This was also an award winner, this time at the IWC Awards. The Animus, Douro 2014 (£4.99) from Portugal is potentially the greatest barbecue red of the summer. All that sun-packed, warm and spiced fruit but for under a fiver. Freeman's Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 is another crowd pleaser this time for just over a fiver at £5.99. Don't expect something innovative or mindblowing - but that's the point. It's better than almost every other New Zealand Sauvignon at this price. There are more expensive wines (the Exquisite Collection is a particularly reliable own-label range) but we're keeping in the spirits (boom boom) of things here and that rose, red and white should sort out good-value summer drinking for a bit. And now for a cup of tea...