Today, those lovely folks at Aldi have increased their gin range.
In addition to those they released at Christmas (review of those here), there are a few more familiar faces. 58 Gin (review here), and rather opportunely, one that’s been in my stash to review thanks to a good friend (thanks Paul x). So I couldn’t resist the opportunity to tell you what this pretty gin is like, before you hit the shops later today to raid the shelves.
Colombo 7 Gin is a gin made using 7 botanicals inspired by the Cinnamon Gardens in Sri Lanka. But though it was released in 2015, it actually has a longer history, created at a distillery first founded in 1924.
The distillery was originally founded to create a spirit called Arrack, but World War II meant that the distillery was asked to make spirits to aid the war effort. Of course, this included keeping the soldiers officials and their families in Sri Lanka in gin. (We do love the stuff). And so the distillery owner created a gin for locals to drink – featuring local botanicals that by the nature of being just that, weren’t hampered by trade issues in wartime. This meant using botanicals from the Cinnamon Gardens – cinnamon, ginger and curry leaf, alongside more traditional botanicals – juniper, coriander, liquorice and angelica.
After the war, another gin – their London Dry – was released and is still sold today. Rockland Dry Gin is also the most popular gin in Sri Lanka today.
The current owner, Amal de Silva Wijeyeratne (grandson of the founder Carl de Silva Wijeyeratne) took over in 2005, and as part of his work to restructure the company (following the Boxing Day tsunami) discovered his grandfather’s recipe, and decided to revive it. Despite playing with the recipe, he soon discovered that sometimes less really is more, and returned to the original.
Whilst it’s no longer made in Sri Lanka, it still retains the flavours that make it a truly Sri Lankan spirit. So lets head in.
On the nose, you get the copper pot stills sweetness, and spice – you can pick out the ginger and hints of cinnamon, the curry leaf is done so well it’s a balance, rather than dominant, not too much, just enough. On the palate, is lots of spice, ginger and cinnamon warmth, and then the liquorice kicks in with that soft earthy sweetness.
In a G&T, it’s warm and soft and fragrant. The cinnamon lingers, swirls around, it’s for me the most prominent, sitting above the more classic flavours of juniper and coriander. It’s not overly strong though, or spicy for that matter. It’s like the dusting of cinnamon on an apple pie, and with the ginger and curry leaf it adds warmth to the drink.
When it came to garnishes, the distiller recommends curry leaf and another suggestion is lime. Forget the lime, it absolutely kills the cinnamon which for me is why this gin sings. I have no curry leaves (yet), but would also look at something like kaffir lime leaves, maybe even fenugreek. For now, I’m just going to drink it as is. And maybe, as it’s in Aldi for a mere £19.99, grab another bottle or two.