It’s the 1st December and hence definitely time to be thinking about (re)filling the drinks cabinet for the festive season.
If you’re looking for some well-priced options, read on!
A few weeks ago, we were fortunate enough to be invited along to the Lidl Christmas Spirits event at the excellent Lucky Liquor in Edinburgh.
Over drinks and nibbles (all Lidl brands, naturally) we were given a sample of a some of the new spirits which Lidl are selling this Christmas. As you’d expect, all are competitively-priced and there are some genuinely good drinks in the bunch.
We’ll be doing a more thorough write-up of some of the spirits soon, but here’s the details of what we tried that evening.
French Grain Vodka
Lidl has always had a few vodka brands, however this new French Grain is a step up in quality.
The packaging is clearly targeting a more premium buyer (with obvious similarities to other high-end vodkas) but it’s still priced at £17.99 for a 70cl bottle.
Made from French wheat and bottled in France, the first thing everyone agreed on was what a good nose it had.
Nosing vodka isn’t something we’d usually do, but there were very pleasant vanilla and floral notes.
Drinking it neat revealed a pleasant sweetness and a very clean finish with no hint of chemical burn or roughness.
Clearly it’s mainly going to be used in cocktails and recommended serve was as a modified Tom Collins using Elderflower, Lemon, Vanilla Sugar and Soda water.
This cocktail was the opening drink of the evening and we can confirm it was delicious.
It also appears to be excellent straight from the freezer!
Hortus London Gin
Hortus was added to the Lidl range last year and, like the vodka it’s intended to be a more premium product, though still only £15.99 a bottle.
The gin was created in collaboration with Kevin Love, formerly Head Chef at Heston Blumenthal’s Hinds Head who is now consulting with Lidl.
It’s a proper London Gin and uses 7 botanicals to produce the flavour.
Really good and we’ll be publishing a full review shortly.
Hortus Sloe Gin
Hortus Sloe Gin had just been launched at the start of November, so it was a great opportunity to get an early taste.
It’s the same Hortus Gin recipe, but steeped in sloes for 8 weeks and then bottled at 29%.
Tasting it we found it very pleasant, with marzipan and clean sloe taste and not too syrupy or cloying, though some of the others commented that it felt a bit light and could have done with a longer steep.
Vieux Garcon Cognac
This is Lidl’s only cognac and is a standard part of the spirits range.
Bottled at 40%, it has previously won a silver at the IWSC awards.
Our first thought on tasting this was that it was a great ‘beginner cognac’ — it’s very approachable.
Plenty of marzipan and a nuttiness on the nose as well as the expected fruitiness on the palate.
Was described as an ‘after lunch type of drink’ which we can happily agree with.
Abrachan Blended Malt Whisky
Abrachan is a blended malt whisky (would have been called “vatted” before the term was banned by the SWA) which is bottled at 42% and sells for £17.00.
The same whisky is matured in three different casks; American Oak, Oloroso Sherry and Port Pipe before being vatted together.
The european oak flavours dominate so it’s sweet and fruity, but overall it’s a very pleasant dram and at the price is just a great bottle to have on the shelf.
A more detailed review will be published soon.
Ben Bracken 22yo Islay Single Malt
Lidl have a history of bottling exceptional value Single Malts with the 33yo Maxwell released a few years ago being a highlight.
This 22 year old Islay has already won it’s category in the World Whisky Awards and is on sale for £44.99. At that price it will not stay on the shelves for long!
We’ll get a proper-write up of this whisky published soon.
Thanks to Lidl UK for inviting us along and it a few days after the event it was great to see that Hannah Cvetkovic, Lidl’s Sprits buyer was awarded Retail Spirits Buyer of the Year in the IWSC. A great recognition of what is a very good spirits range.