This is something of an oddball gin. It’s sold through the Lidl supermarket chain in Germany and branded quite plainly as Schwarzwald distilled Dry Gin. The gin is distilled by the privately-owned Edelbranntweinbrennerei Bimmerle KG deep in the heart of the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) in the little village of Mösbach, which itself is not far from Strasbourg (thanks Google Maps).
The Bimmerle distillery is responsible for a raft of distilled products, including their own Needle Gin and Lörch schnapps, as well as Aldi and Lidl schnapps. Their Lörch schnapps range covers from the classics “Kirschwasser” (cherry schnapps) to more modern liqueurs, such as the “Happy End” blackcurrant liqueur. I should warn you that Happy End is also an own-brand toilet roll from the Penny supermarket chain, so be careful what you wish for.
Going back to the Schwarzwald Gin we have a more basic Lidl product. What you get is a half litre bottle of 43% abv Gin. Fortunately the Lidl webside has a good write up of the eleven botanicals involved. On top of the juniper you get lavender and ginger, as well as oranges and lemons. The most intriguing botanicals are naturally the ones not revealed. These are the “heimischen Botanicals aus dem Schwarzwald verleihen dem Gin seine pikanten Akzente“, roughly speaking the local botanicals from the Black Forest which give the gin it piquant accents. I’m a big fan of another Black Forest gin, the wonderfully floral Monkey 47. This Gin gets many of its subtle flavours from local herbs, so I was hoping that this budget gin may bring some of the same flavours. As a side note I noticed that the distillery’s own-brand gin, the Neeedle Gin, also uses 11 botanicals (including what look like sloes as well as cinnamon, lavender, oranges and lemons), I wonder if there is a connection ?
Enough of the back story, what’s the gin like ?
Day or Night Gin ? Well this gin is a hard hitting 43% gin, so best not to drink it straight away as you sit in the Lidl car-park. Better to head home and find a comfy couch before you start.
What does it smell of ? Juniper and something herbally, much like I image the Schwarzwald smells
What does it taste of ? The first thing I would recommend is not to drink this pure. In it’s pure state it’s a little rough and quite herbally – imagine mixing a herbal cough syrup with strong vodka. However if you match it with a good tonic water, say Fever-Tree then you end up with a very nice traditional gin, you start with a bitter citrus taste, followed by a full-on juniper hit and finally a nice spicy finish.
Buy it ? There’s only one place to go for this, the Lidl. I bought mine in store, just before Christmas. It retails at €7.49. I’m not sure if this is one of their seasonal products, but perhaps that depends on sales numbers. Anyway, if it’s sold out at your local supermarket you can still buy it on-line from the Lidl. I must admit I had a bit of a Ron Weasley moment (Bloody Hell) when I checked the Lidl website. Not only do they e-tail this gin, but they even have a bunch of premium brands, including Beefeater, Tanqueray and my beloved Monkey 47. You could start your own gin bar from their on-line selection.
Overall I’m giving it 4 out of 5. That’s not to say it’s as good as a €30 bottle that gets 4/5, but this is extremely good value. Try it as a G&T with lots of ice and garnished with a slice of lime, it works great on a hot summer evening.