If you recognise the brand name ‘Hortus’, there’s a very good reason for that; Hortus is one of Lidl’s premier gin brands, so much so that it has won a number of awards including Silver at the International Spirits Challenge in 2016. It’s seriously good and very affordable with their London Dry gin costing just £15.99 for a 70ml bottle – which is a lifesaver when you’re running a cocktail blog!
The Hortus range features a number of varieties including Sloe, Summer and even a Spiced one which appears to have been launched in an attempt to get some of the market share from the big name brand, Opihr. I’ve tried the Sloe – which is lovely – and although I may do a post about it at some point, this review isn’t about that but rather one of the new additions to the Hortus family. In October, Lidl announced that Hortus were releasing two gin liqueurs to get us all in the Christmas spirit and the flavours sounded, frankly, divine – Raspberry Gin Liqueur and Rhubarb and Ginger Gin Liqueur. My local Lidl didn’t stock the Raspberry Gin Liqueur (ho-hum) so I had to make do with the Rhubarb and Ginger Gin Liqueur, but if i’m being completely honest it was the one I was the most interested in anyway. I’m a proud Yorkshire lass who’s from the very heart of the rhubarb triangle, so naturally I am a complete sucker for anything rhubarb based, but rest assured this one I bought purely in the name of science and mixology-based journalism. That’s how i’m justifying my impulse purchase anyway and i’d rather you didn’t poke too much at that flawless logic, please and thank you.
The Rhubarb and Ginger Gin Liqueur is Lidl’s budget friendly version of Edinburgh Gin’s Rhubarb And Ginger Liqueur but, aside from the price, there’s not a great deal of difference between the two. The Edinburgh Gin costs usually around £19.99 whilst the Hortus is a tempting £11.99, although I have noticed over the last week that Edinburgh Gin’s seem to be in the middle of a price cut at the supermarkets – is this an effort to deter people from buying the Lidl version? I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a direct result of the launch of this new Hortus gin liqueur: it is an absolute dead ringer for the more upmarket version and I can definitely see a lot of people switching over to it. In fact, my local Lidl’s (I have two within a mile of my house, lucky me!) ran out of stock within a couple of days from what I could see, so perhaps Edinburgh Gin are looking to draw back some of their clientele by selling it at £15.
As for the taste, again the Hortus gin liqueur tastes almost identical to the Edinburgh Gin variant with an ever so slight bit of extra ginger flavouring at the end which I personally found rather pleasant. It has distinct aromas, as well as tastes, of wonderful rhubarb which lends itself to being the perfect drink to enjoy on an evening, straight in a tumbler with a fire crackling in the background.
That’s not to say that the Hortus liqueur doesn’t mix well: oh, but it does. I’ve had it with the classic Bundaberg Ginger Beer (which I can’t praise enough) and the Fever Tree Aromatic Tonic Water, both of which worked marvelously with the liqueur for different reasons. This Fever Tree Tonic Water in particular matched the liqueur as it has a crisp freshness and a slight bitterness from the Angostura bark which offset the sweetness of the liqueur to leave you with a more well rounded gin and tonic experience. For an added bonus, the tonic water and the liqueur are both pink, and that’s just fun.
As for the Bundaberg, I think it’s an absolute given that rhubarb liqueurs, gins or spirits mix beautifully with ginger beer and that goes doubly so when it’s a rhubarb and ginger liqueur.
In essence, this is a liqueur that I believe is a must-have for the Christmas period, although I am unsure how long it’s going to be on sale for. If you’re doing your weekly shop and you notice an errant bottle or two in your local Lidl, I would heartily recommend picking them up, if not for yourself then I guarantee there’ll be a gin lover you know who would adore it as a Christmas present.
UPDATED 08/09/2018: If you enjoyed this review, check out our review for Lidl’s Hortus Pomegranate and Rose Gin Liqueur!