Peter Ranscombe heads down to the capital’s Castle Street for a preview of the German grocer’s gin range.
POP-UPS have become a regular fixture on our high streets, filling empty shops with retailers for a short period of time.
They can be a great way for new businesses to dip their toes into the water and find out if there’s demand for their products.
The latest pop-up to hit Edinburgh is a wee bit different – it’s discount supermarket chain Lidl’s “House of Hortus” pop-up gin club.
Having already visited Dean Street in London and Queen Street in Cardiff, Lidl’s team has set up camp in a marquee on Edinburgh’s Castle Street.
Visitors who have pre-booked tickets will pop into the pop-up tonight and tomorrow to enjoy Lidl’s range of gins.
But what can they expect to find? And what will shoppers make of the range of gins and gin liqueurs on the supermarket shelves?
Here’s my handy guide to the range – including the rather impressive new Scottish gin, Aquine, complete with our country’s national beast, the unicorn, on the label.
Aquine Scottish craft gin (£19.99)
My pick of the night was Aquine, a Scottish craft gin made for Lidl by The Glasgow Distillery. Like the distillery’s own Makar gin, there was a savoury or metallic note that always jumps out at me, balanced by peppermint and lime flavours. It was the mouthfeel that was most-impressive though – rounder than Lidl’s botanical garden range of gins and reminiscent of the delicious Isle of Harris gin.
Hortus Artisan London Dry Gin (£15.99)
I had to double-check the strength of this classic London dry gin – it’s got plenty of flavour and packs a real punch, yet it’s only a standard 40% alcohol-by-volume (ABV). The heat from the black pepper and cumin seed flavours and intensity from the lemon peel notes mean it will stand up well to tonic and other cocktail mixers.
Hortus Oriental Spiced Gin (£15.99)
Really enjoyed this served with orange and ginger. The black pepper heat and notes of cardamom seeds and cloves were strong enough to shine through the mixers. On its own, it packed a punch on the nose, with some subtler thyme and orange peel notes coming through when it was served neat.
Hortus Citrus Garden Gin (£15.99)
Perhaps less to set the classic citrus gin apart from the crowd, but plenty of lime and lemon juice aromas on the nose and then a classic warming palate, with some lime, blood orange and nail varnish notes.
Hortus Rhubarb & Ginger Gin Liqueur (£11.99)
Pronounced aromas of rhubarb and custard and then the spicy ginger notes race to the fore on the palate. Great balance here and lots of black pepper heat.
Hortus Plum & Cinnamon Gin Liqueur (£11.99)
Plenty of apple and cinnamon notes on the nose, joined by brown sugar on the palate. A smooth texture, with a gentle warmth.
Hortus Pomegranate & Rose Gin Liqueur (£11.99)
Confected strawberry and red cherry flavours made this my least favourite of the gin liqueurs, but that’s more down to my personal preference than anything else. The sweetness overcame any dryness from the gin.