Sunday, 12 October 2014

Is it worth spending that little bit extra on gin? Oliver Cromwell vs Plymouth

We’ve been going through quite a bit of gin recently. Mrs Cake has grown fond of the odd gin and tonic and that combination has become her standard drink for taking to parties, so I’ve quickly gone from never having bought a bottle to… having now bought a few bottles. I don’t think I’ve made any secret of my apathy for this particular spirit thus far, but a spirit it is, and therefore not undeserving of some attention on these pages.

Now, the last bottle I bought was the Plymouth brand and admittedly, it was the result of some woefully shoddy mental arithmetic on my part (particularly for someone who works in accounts – shhh…) concerning a certain cross-spirits offer that was on at Tesco that day. I didn’t mind though because I didn’t have to buy Gordon’s, and for my money (£20.30, I believe it was) I got a litre of gin at an encouraging 41.2% ABV. We tried it almost straight away, and agreed that it was… all right.

Moving on, and a short while later it was time to gin up once more. This time Mrs Cake and I agreed between us that she should buy it, since as I say, she drinks most of it. We happened to be in Aldi, and though we’ve had it before, we decided to try the multi award winning Oliver Cromwell – Aldi’s finest. It’s only £9.49 for the obligatory 70cl.

First test was head to head gin and tonics. Like the drinks themselves, the results were mixed. Mrs Cake preferred the one made with Aldi’s finest while I preferred the one made with Plymouth – expensive tastes. As expected though, there wasn’t much to choose, and consequently I still haven’t found any definitive reason for spending all that much money on gin.

I moved on – this time ably assisted by Mrs Cake, as opposed to being joined by her – to doing a neat gin test. This time I figured we may as well go blind, so I asked Mrs Cake to do the pouring for me. Without keeping you in too much suspense; I was able to correctly identify that sample A was the Plymouth. It was sweeter both on the nose and on the palate, though only marginally. The most noticeable difference was the strength. Plymouth holds a 3.7% advantage over the Cromwell, and it shows – not that the Cromwell is unpleasant, it just tastes watery by comparison.

As ever, it leaves you with the question of value; is the extra strength and a very slightly preferable taste worth that extra £10? It depends what you intend to use it for. If you’re going to drink it neat, you need the extra strength and flavour in my opinion. If it is for mixing though, which so much of the market of gin seems to be, I can’t see the justification. You pays your money, you takes your choice. So you decide.


  1. You must try - in fact I have some in my drinks cabinet so you can try it at New Year.

  2. Will you still have it by then? Then I should be delighted. I'll start thinking about what I'm going to bring... absinthe is almost certainly on the cards, you'll be pleased to know.

    Thanks for visiting again!