Aldi gin – Oliver Cromwell 1599

A little while ago, a particular gin was brought to my attention; Aldi have produced a premium gin and it has won a rather prestigous award. Oliver Cromwell 1599 premium gin won the 2010 International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC), Gin & Vodka Association trophy – two months before it launched. A full list of awards and their winners can be found over at BarLifeUK.

Oliver Cromwell 1599 Gin
Oliver Cromwell 1599 Gin

I find it rather amusing that this gin is named after the famous Parliamentarian, Oliver Cromwell (as well as the year of his birth). This famous puritan was rather well-known for being a bit of a kill-joy; while ruling as Lord Protector, Oli managed to close down inns and theatres all over the country, banned make-up, Christmas and most sports, as well as being savage toward the Irish, massacring thousands of them following the sieges of Drogheda and Wexford.

All-in-all, Oliver Cromwell was a warty gimp that changed the face of England through a series of wars and repression. The saying “warts and all” is actually attributed to Cromwell who instructed a portrait painter to paint him faithfully and not flatteringly.

Anyway, enough about Cromwell. As a London dry gin, it has a guarantee of a certain underlying quality but its botanical list is hard to come by – although the label proclaims some of the usual flavours. I would have assumed that it was distilled by J & G Greenall, but it appears to be a product of The Netherlands.

It is sold in 50cl bottles and retails at £7.99. Although in a smaller bottle it still comes in at the lower price-bracket: £12 on the 75cl or £16 on the litre.

The sniff-test was rewarding; loads and loads of juniper streaming out of the bottle-top.

The initial neat tasting revealed a powerful but not particularly smooth gin. Is carries a tremendous load of juniper; almost too much in that it overrides absolutely everything else. It is powerful in the mouth and leaves you reeling – almost like being beaten with a branch from a juniper bush.

Mixing up a gin and tonic drove off heaps of powerful juniper aromas. Using either Schweppes or Fever-Tree tonic water produced an intense G&T that saw the tonic water take a back-seat to the indomitable power of the juniper. There are very few citrus or spice notes in the attack, middle or finish and nothing to round it out; to my palette, this gin is too potent and too simple.

In an attempt to provide more subtlety to the drinking experience, I reached for one of my few remaining bottles of Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic water. I also dropped a hearty slice of lemon into the glass after giving it a little squeeze to liberate more juice and oil. The added citrus and floral flavours made this a more palatable G&T but the juniper still rode proud at the head of the column. A dash of Angostura aromatic bitters added some spice to round off the experience into something a little more like what I expect from a gin and tonic, but while balanced, the taste was fierce and potent, like drinking concentrated G&T.

While it is hard to argue with over 300 experienced judges and the chemical analysis of the IWSC, I personally can’t see how this gin beat the likes of Sipsmith and Whitley Neill. It is too single-minded in its pursuit of of juniper.


18 thoughts on “Aldi gin – Oliver Cromwell 1599”

    1. This journey of discovery is about personal taste and everyone’s palette is different. I like the big juniper gins, but there are obviously limits. I am finding that I like a lot of depth and subtlety to my gin; they need complexity with floral notes, spiciness and citrus, but I found these lacking in the Cromwell.

      Each to their own, I suppose.

  1. Pingback: Oliver Cromwell 1599 Small Batch Gin – Aldi

  2. Just had my first experience of 1599. True to the cause I used Aldi diet tonic. All I can say it tastes alright to me and I have been quaffing G & T for a huge number of years. The label needs some investigating though, as it states ‘…lovingly distilled in small batches in the presence of natural juniper…..’ So are we to assume that there is a modest tabernacle of good quality juniper somewhere in the distillery and the flavour we enjoy is from a plastic tub of juniper essence?
    Distillers come clean please.

  3. That’s pretty good. That reminds me of Churchill’s martini, made in ‘the presence’ of a vermouth bottle.

  4. Tried this yesterday with fever tree tonic and agree with the review. It was not smooth.
    I think I will need more tonic and a good slice of lemon / lime with it next time or use it in gin fizz.
    The other bottles in my cupboard are all drinkable without added fruit.

  5. Just bought this from the local Aldi, after weeks of buying the other cheaper gin they stock which is only 37% and the Cromwell gins beats it by a mile, I even prefer it to gordons. This gin is 40% and by Joves (or is by Jeeves) you can easily tell the difference, this is very smooth and I’m quite happy drinking this neat, swirling it around in the mouth before swallowing.

  6. Tried Aldulu Oliver Cromwell on recommendation and mixed it with Morrison’s tonic with a splash of cranberry (2 for 90p) poured over lots of ice. Superb taste absolutely loved it. Usually drink Bombay sapphire or Hendricks. Couldn’t taste the difference so bargain I reckon.

    1. Try them side-by-side and the differences will be a lot more obvious. that said, if you like it, then enjoy – it does get some glowing reviews and it’s well-priced.

  7. All I can say is, it makes great sloe gin, and the experts say to use a good quality gin. 1599 is a good quality gin reasonably priced. We are delighted.

    1. I imagine it would make good sloe gin actually – there’s no subtlety to get lost and it has a strong juniper backbone. Good thought.

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