Everyone has their nemesis. For Captain Ahab it’s Moby Dick, for Dr Doofenschmirtz it’s Perry the Platapus. Mine, it turns out, is a cheap Aldi gin. For the last couple of months I’ve been trying to finish this gin review. It should be a simple things. Drink the gin, write something about how it tastes, then press publish. It’s not been that simple, for a couple of reasons. Firstly I got floored by the manufacturer’s claim that it’s signature botanical is Thai Basil. I can taste something a little like Thai Basil, but it gets lost in the general taste. Secondly I’m beginning to like this gin a lot more than I expected – but more of that latter. Let’s start with the back-story.
Even if you are tea-total, you will have seen the gin-revival of the last decade. We’ve now reached the point where even the artisan gin makers are producing a range of gins. The supermarket own-brands are no exception. As an example we have the Saraswati Dry Gin distributed through Aldi-Süd in Germany.
The Saraswati gin is the Aldi attempt to fit in the “exotic East” niche, competing alongside such established brands as the Ophir, Tangerey Rangapur and the Mombasa Club Gin (I know the last one isn’t geographically in India but it aims at the same spice-vibe)
The Saraswati gin is named after (drum roll) Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of “knowledge, music, art, speech, wisdom, and learning.” To be honest that’s quite a list of attributes to live up to and I’m not sure if the use of the goddess’ name may upset some people.
The botanical list isn’t complete, but majors on juniper, angelica, and coriander as well as a subtle spicy hints of Pandan as well as fresh citrus and peppermint (as a rough translation of “raffiniert-würzige Noten von Pandan sowie frische Zitrus- und Pfefferminzanklänge”)
Design-wise, it’s just a shade away from being a “good-looking gin” The bottle is a classic pharmacy style round with a gold shrink-warp foil. It’s the type of bottle that would look at home on the shelves of and Indian or Thai restaurant. (Which is, I think, damming it with faint praise, as we Brits say).
Finally before we dive into the gin, one point I should raise. The gin is manufactured by Pabst & Richarz. A quick look at their website presents a slightly different take on the Saraswati gin. The screenshot below presents the Saraswati as a Thai and Thai-Basil themed gin. This has thrown me a Asian-vibe curveball as my idea of an Indian-themed and a Thai-themed gin are actually quite different. The only way to decide is to try it, so on to the tasting notes.
Day or Night Gin ? it’s a healthy 40% abv. Sounds perfect for an evening pre-meal drink.
What does it smell of ? It hits a lot of the right notes – juniper, certainly a sweet-citrus note with a hint of herbs – coriander – or possibly Thai-basil.
What does it taste of ? As a pure spirit, it delivers a surprisingly plesent taste. Smooth at first with a gentle warmth and a strong herbal tastes with a mild earthy after-taste. Way better than I was expecting. For my first tasting as a Gin and Tonic I tried it with the Fevertree Mediterranean tonic and pitted it against the Ophir and Tangerey Rangapur; all garnished with Line. Surprisingly none of them came out great. A second testing with the regular Fevertree Tonic Water and Lemon was a way more pleasurable experience, something I really wasn’t expecting. I think that the Saraswati Gin has such a good combination of the Lime and Spice-based botanicals that it needs a regular tonic and Lemon to contrast the tastes.
Buy It ? As my blog has implied, you can buy this from the Aldi, more specifically the Aldi-Süd in Germany in a 0.5 litre bottle. It was available a few months back (October 2020) as a special offer, retaining for 8.49 and then discounted to 6.49. These days a quick twawl of the internet has only found it sold by a few opportunists on eBay.
Overall ? 4 / 5 I really wasn’t expecting this to be a good gin – I guess I’ve been drinking too many cheap gins from the Penny recently. I’m enjoying it way more than I expected. Now I’m not sure if I’ve become a little soft in my old age, or a little stingy by giving it four out of five. I’ve reached the end of the bottle and would buy again, however I’d love to hear your thoughts on this gin, so please do let me know what you think in the comments section.