With its heraldic crest showing lions-rampant, illuminated lettering and embossed green bottle, Hampstead London Dry Gin is trying very hard to convey an upmarket, traditional image – one that is founded on a full dozen traditional botanicals – despite being another of the bargain basement distillations we have been sampling from the German supermarket chains.
Slightly stronger than the Oliver Cromwell we bought on our trip to Topsham, Hampstead’s quoted figure of 40% ABV is reflected in a full-on jolt of juniper when you let it flow over your taste buds: “past your ‘ampsteads” as someone born within the sound of Bow Bells might explain.
Well sticking with Cockney rhyming slang I’d probably add that rather than a gentle aroma, lifting the lid lets out a bit of a “pen and ink” and, apart from the citrus tangs, someone seems to have “half-inched” all the other nine botanical notes. There is probably some Angelica Root in there, given the hint of sweetness I detected, but I failed to find a list of the actual ingredients on Tinternet and the maker’s label told me little other than how to dispose of the bottle responsibly.
As with Aldi’s Cromwellian moniker, Lidl’s marketing people were probably searching for a name to add some kudos to their cut price concoction – £9.99 for the 50Cl bottle – and to be honest, once it was empty I didn’t feel any deep pang of regret about not buying a larger one. It made a pleasant enough drink with lime and a Fever Tree premium tonic. Once again, though – if you want to go budget – I’d rather revisit Bertie Wooster and Finton’s dry gin where Lidl offers you more for your money.
Overall though – if you’re a bit boracic and don’t want to get too Brahms and Liszt or off your boat-race, then a drop of the old Hampsteads for a penny less than a Pavarotti won’t do you too much harm. Cheers!
Luciano Pavarotti – the world famous opera “Tenner”